Asian stocks mixed as investors reassessed global economy

SEOUL, South Korea – Asian stock markets were mixed Wednesday as investors reassessed the global economy following the International Monetary Bank’s global growth cut. They remained keen on corporate earnings reports and also on the European Central Bank’s policy meeting later in the week.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.7 per cent to 16,602.04 while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.3 per cent to 2,011.90. But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.8 per cent to 21,841.73 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6 per cent to 5,481.30. Stocks in mainland China and Taiwan were lower but in Indonesia and Singapore, stock indexes were higher.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Speculation on monetary easing has run out of steam and market focus is now turned to company earnings, which are the better proxy of the underlying economic performance,” Margaret Yang, a markets strategist at CMC in Singapore, said in a daily commentary.

GLOBAL OUTLOOK: The IMF said Tuesday that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union will reduce global economic growth this year and next. It lowered its estimate for worldwide growth to 3.1 per cent this year, 0.1 percentage point lower than its previous forecast. The downward growth revision added to a gloomy outlook amid questions about whether recent stock market rallies were sustainable. Major global stock market indexes have hit all-time highs since the Britain’s referendum

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished mixed on Tuesday following a three-week rally. The Dow Jones industrial average inched 0.1 per cent higher to set another record at 18,559.01. But the Standard & Poor’s 500 index pulled back from its record high, finishing 0.1 per cent lower at 2,163.78. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.4 per cent to 5,036.37.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. oil futures added 16 cents to $45.61 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 49 cents to close at $45.45 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the standard for oil sold internationally, gained 19 cents to $46.85 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 106.01 yen from 106.26 yen while the euro fell to $1.1015 from $1.1068 late Monday, and the British pound fell to $1.3093 from $1.3260. The dollar slipped to 106.09 Japanese yen from 106.12 yen.