HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed on Monday following a weak lead from Wall Street, as traders erred on the side of caution on expectations the United States (US) Federal Reserve will soon begin reeling in its stimulus program.
Tokyo rose 0.79 percent, or 108.02 points to 13,758.13, Sydney was flat, edging down 1.4 points to 5,112.5, and Seoul eased 0.13 percent, or 2.47 points to 1,917.64.
Hong Kong fell 0.24 percent or 54.11 points to 22,463.70, while Shanghai ended 0.83 percent, or 17.15 points higher at 2,085.60.
US shares ended lower on Friday, bringing a close to one of Wall Street’s worst weeks of 2013, as a consumer confidence report showed weaker sentiment in August than July, while retailers also reported poor earnings.
The Dow fell 0.20 percent, the S&P 500 declined 0.32 percent and the Nasdaq was 0.09 percent off.
However, while the latest economic data out of Washington were soft, investors feel the US central bank will begin to wind down the $85-billion-a-month bond-buying scheme that has supported global markets for almost a year.
Many market-watchers predict the bank will begin its tapering next month.
However, BNP Paribas economist Julia Coronado said: “While clearly a September move is on the table, we think it is less of a done deal than most market participants are currently thinking.”
She told Dow Jones Newswires that minutes from July’s Fed policy meeting that are due out this week will likely show a variety of views within the bank over the program’s future.
On forex markets the dollar bought 97.60 yen in afternoon trade, against 97.53 yen in New York City on Friday.
The euro fetched $1.3325 and 130.03 yen compared to $1.3326 and 130.01 yen, with the single currency getting support from last week’s figures showing some economic life returning to the eurozone.
India’s rupee, Asia’s worst-performing major currency this year, fell to a record low 62.35 against the dollar as concerns about Fed tapering as well as the domestic economy caused jitters among investors.
In Tokyo, shares rose despite figures showing Japan’s trade deficit had almost doubled, as the weaker yen led to a surge in the cost of energy imports.
However, the data also showed exports to the US jumped 18.4 percent while those to the eurozone were up 9.5 percent.