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Asian shares were mixed in directionless trading Tuesday following a U.S. holiday, as optimism about a deal on the U.S. debt was dented by worries about the regional economy.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.4% in morning trading to 31,119.27. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was little changed, inching up less than 0.1% to 7,218.60. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.9% to 2,581.89. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.5% to 18,458.25, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.6% to 3,202.41.
Analysts say investors remain concerned about the a possible “second wave” of COVID-19 cases in China, although the economic impact is expected to be more limited than from the earlier pandemic wave.
China’s recovery from virus-related disruptions during the past several years appears to be faltering, adding to worries over the regional economy.
“To say China’s economic opening has been a disappointment could be an understatement, especially as reflected in local stocks that are now on the cusp of a bear market,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.
World shares finished mostly higher Monday after President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached agreement on a deal to raise the U.S. national debt ceiling. Now Biden and McCarthy are working to gather votes needed to gain congressional approval in time to avert a default.
There are other concerns on top of the threat of the U.S. defaulting on its debt. A key measure of inflation that is closely watched by the Federal Reserve ticked higher than economists expected in April. The persistent pressure from inflation complicates the Fed’s fight against high prices. The central bank has been aggressively raising interest rates since 2022, but recently signaled it will likely forgo a rate hike when it meets in mid-June.
Markets are closely watching the U.S. consumer confidence data set to be released later in the day.
In energy trading, U.S. benchmark crude added 20 cents to $72.87 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, advanced 5 cents to $77.12 per barrel.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar slipped to 140.12 Japanese yen from 140.38 yen. The euro cost $1.0713, inching up from $1.0711.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
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