Most Asian stocks fall as investors assess global conditions

HONG KONG – Asian stocks were mostly lower Tuesday as investors stuck to a holding pattern as they awaited more corporate earnings and a European Central Bank policy meeting later in the week.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.7 per cent to 16,619.76 as the market had a delayed reaction to the yen’s weakness after it reopened following a holiday. Other Asian indexes slid, with South Korea’s Kospi losing 0.4 per cent to 2,012.19, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sliding 0.6 per cent to 21,666.40 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China shedding 0.8 per cent to 3,020.39. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.5 per cent to 5,433.10. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore also fell.

GLOBAL OUTLOOK: Investors are anticipating a slew of events this week that they’ll assess to get a better read on the state of the world economy and what it might mean for stock markets. British data set for release starting later Tuesday will provide an update on how the country’s economy is doing after the Brexit vote. A slew of U.S. corporate earnings are also expected throughout the week, while the ECB’s policy rate decision is Thursday, with markets expected to be volatile ahead of the announcement. Australia’s central bank, meanwhile, released minutes of its July meeting showing that officials downplayed the risk of Britain’s Brexit vote to the world economy while noting that inflation remained weak, which analysts believe could open the way for policy easing.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “The market has put two and two together after release of the more detailed (Reserve Bank of Australia) minutes and concluded that the probability of an August rate cut has increased,” Ric Spooner of CMC Markets in Sydney said in a report. However, he added that “the stock market is struggling to get enthusiastic. This reflects a degree of caution as traders assess the odds of further gains.”

SOFTBANK SOFTNESS: Shares in Japanese technology company Softbank Group Corp. slumped 10 per cent one day after it announced that it is buying Britain’s ARM Holdings for 24.3 billion pounds ($32 billion) in a bid to expand into the “Internet of Things” — or connected home devices. Investors were apparently unhappy that SoftBank is paying a 43 per cent premium to ARM’s closing share price last week.

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks ticked higher as the Standard & Poor’s 500 index set another record, rising 0.2 per cent to end at 2,166.89. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.1 per cent to 18,533.05. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.5 per cent to 5,055.78.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. oil futures slipped. Crude fell 20 cents to $45.04 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 71 cents to settle at $45.24 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, the standard for oil sold internationally, fell 17 cents to $46.79 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar hovered near its highest level in nearly a month, slipping to 105.82 yen from 106.22 in late trading Monday. The euro edged up to $1.1075 from $1.1070.