Asian Shares Mixed With U.S. Inflation Data In Focus

Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday as investors awaited U.S. consumer inflation data that could provide more clarity on the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy plans.

Analysts expect a slowdown in consumer price growth to an annual rate of 3.1 percent from 4 percent in May. The core rate is likely to have fallen for a third month to 5 percent from 5.3 percent.

The Fed is likely to raise its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to a 5.25-5.5 percent range later this month after the pause seen in June’s FOMC meeting.

Upcoming U.S. earnings also remained on investors’ radar, with JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo due to unveil their second-quarter earnings this week.

Chinese stocks fell notably despite stronger-than-expected credit data for June. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.8 percent to 3,196.13, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rallied 1.1 percent to 18,860.95.

Tencent Holdings rose 1.6 percent and Alibaba gained about 1 percent after China’s state planner praised the companies in a statement detailing a study it had done on platform firms.

Japanese shares closed lower to hit a one-month low as a firmer yen weighed on exporters. The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 0.8 percent to 31.943.93, while the broader Topix Index settled 0.7 percent lower at 2,221.48.

Chipmakers and pharmaceutical stocks were among the biggest decliners. Tokyo Electron tumbled 3.3 percent and Eisai lost 4.1 percent.

SoftBank jumped 2.1 percent after reports that the tech conglomerate is considering U.S. listing for its payments business. Shares of Z Holdings soared 5.6 percent.

Japan’s core machinery orders unexpectedly declined in May, while producer price inflation slowed for the sixth consecutive month in June, separate reports showed earlier in the day.

Seoul stocks ended higher, with the Kospi Average rising 0.5 percent to 2,574.72. Leading steelmaker POSCO Holdings topped the gainers list to settle 5.8 percent higher at 417,500 won.

Australian markets closed a tad higher as rising commodity prices lifted mining and energy stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 percent to 7,135.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index gained 0.4 percent to close at 7,341.50.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX-50 Index finished marginally lower at 11,908.27 after the country’s central bank kept interest rates unchanged for the first time in 13 meetings.

U.S. stocks advanced overnight as Beijing extended its policy support to the ailing property sector and bond yields remained capped ahead of key inflation reports and bank earnings this week.

The Dow gained 0.9 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.6 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.7 percent.

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