Asian shares mixed as rally peters

HONG KONG- Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday, with Japan’s Nikkei bouncing back from the previous day’s losses while Hong Kong and Shanghai retreated after recent gains.

The Dow on Wall Street marked up yet another record high, but with few catalysts to drive trade, investors stayed on the sidelines, while the euro weakened further against the yen and the dollar.

Tokyo rose 0.34 percent and Seoul added 0.10 percent, but Hong Kong slipped 0.50 percent, Shanghai shed 0.17 percent and Sydney was 0.22 percent lower.

Analysts said dealers were taking a breather after a recent advance on global markets fuelled by a tally of upbeat data, including on US jobs, Japanese economic growth, and Chinese manufacturing and trade.

Leading the advances has been Wall Street, where the Dow and S&P 500 have broken records on a regular basis the past two weeks.

While that rally stalled Tuesday, the Dow still eked out a 0.02 percent to hit a record high, while the S&P 500 dipped 0.02 percent from an all-time high. The Nasdaq nudged 0.04 percent higher.

The main focus for the rest of the week will be on the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy meeting that concludes Friday, with investors hoping for a lead on whether it plans to unveil any fresh stimulus measures for the economy.

On foreign exchange markets, in Tokyo Wednesday the dollar dipped to 102.32 yen, compared with 102.35 yen in New York.

The euro eased to $1.3538 and 138.51 yen from $1.3545 and 138.64 yen.

Analysts said the single currency is finally being sold off after the European Central Bank’s aggressive easing measures last week, which included an unprecedented cut in interest rates to negative.

“After an initial limited reaction, last week’s easing by the European Central Bank appears to be weighing on the euro,” said Nick Bennenbroek, head of currency strategy at Wells Fargo Securities.

Oil prices edged up as oil cartel OPEC prepares to hold a meeting in Vienna later in the day at which it is expected to maintain its production output.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery climbed four cents to $104.39 a barre and Brent crude for July added nine cents to $109.61.

Gold fetched $1,261.17 an ounce at 0210 GMT compared with $1,253.19 late Tuesday.