Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of ECB Meeting

Asian stocks ended Wednesday’s session on a mixed note as investors adopted a cautious stance ahead of the European Central Bank’s meeting on Thursday, when policymakers are widely expected to cut interest rates, ramp up asset purchases or both.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index ended down 12.39 points, or 0.4 percent, at 3,008.81, as caution prevailed ahead of the next round of U.S.-China trade talks.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rallied 475.38 points, or 1.8 percent, to finish at 27,159.06 after reports the Hong Kong Government will announce another major concession to protestors.

Japanese shares ended higher for the seventh straight session, with sentiment helped by a weakening yen and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet reshuffle.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 205.66 points, or 1 percent, to 21,597.76, while the broader Topix closed 1.7 percent higher at 1,583.66.

Automakers Toyota, Nissan Motor and Honda Motor climbed 2-3 percent as the dollar gained ground against the yen on the back of a rise in U.S. long-term interest rates. Canon advanced 1.7 percent, Panasonic jumped 2.3 percent and Nikon added 2.5 percent.

Banks Mizuho Financial, Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial jumped 2-4 percent, thanks to rising bond yields.

Apple suppliers Murata Manufacturing and Alps Alpine moved sharply higher after the California-based tech company announced a new lineup of iPhones.

Australian markets ended modestly higher, led by gains in the mining sector. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index edged up 23.90 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,638, while the broader All Ordinaries Index rose 24.20 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,752.20.

Miners BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group rallied around 2 percent as iron ore prices rose on expectations that Beijing would implement more economic stimulus to boost steel demand. The big four banks rose between 0.9 percent and 1.7 percent as Treasury yields recovered.

On the other hand, oil and gas majors ended mostly lower, with Santos tumbling 3.3 percent after Red Sky Energy struck a farm out deal and operating agreement with the company on its Cooper Basin oil and gas licenses.

Seoul stocks ended higher ahead of a long holiday weekend. The local markets will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Chuseok holiday, the Korean autumn harvest celebration.

The benchmark Kospi climbed 17.12 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,049.20, extending gains for a sixth straight session on expectations that the ECB will dole out stimulus this week.

Steelmakers led the surge, with Posco soaring 6.1 percent and Hyundai Steel rallying 3 percent.

New Zealand shares tumbled, dragged down by telecom and utilities stocks as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern apologized for her party’s handling of an alleged sexual assault.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index plunged 217.70 points, or 2 percent, to 10,924.88. Shares of Spark New Zealand and Meridian Energy fell around 5 percent.

Indonesian shares moved modestly higher. Survey data from Bank Indonesia showed that the country’s retail sales grew 2.4 percent year-on-year in July after a 1.8 percent slump in June. In May, sales rose 7.7 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks ended mixed after the release of underwhelming Chinese inflation data and amid reports that Beijing will buy more American agricultural products to position itself for a better trade deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 inched up marginally, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index closed slightly lower.

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