Asia shares down ahead of Bernanke testimony

Asia shares down ahead of Bernanke testimony

HONG KONG - Asian shares were mostly down Tuesday after a dip on Wall Street ahead of a testimony from the US Federal Reserve chief and a policy meeting of the Japanese central bank.

The dollar turned higher against the yen in Asia as investors waited for Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony on the US economic outlook to Congress on Wednesday.

Tokyo stocks were up 0.05 per cent before the break, as Shanghai fell 0.16 per cent and Sydney dropped 0.64 per cent.

Hong Kong was 0.39 per cent lower while Seoul slid 0.18 per cent. Japanese stocks made slight gains after opening down.

"Given the market's recent steep advances and Nikkei futures' weakness, stocks could easily see more consolidation," said Hiroichi Nishi, SMBC Nikko Securities' general manager of equities.

"With the persistently heavy foreign buying interest in the market, however, the downside appears to be limited," he said.

US stocks slipped Monday despite a flurry of merger and acquisition news as analysts said the market was taking a breather before Bernanke's testimony and the release of the Fed minutes from the last policy meeting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.12 per cent to 15,335.28, while the broad-market S&P 500 lost 0.07 per cent to 1,666.29.

The Bank of Japan was also due to start a two-day policy meeting to Wednesday. Few expect the bank to take fresh measures after its massive monetary easing in early April drove the yen down to multi-year lows against the dollar.

The dollar was changing hands at 102.61 yen in Tokyo morning trade, up from 102.26 yen in New York late Monday.

The euro rose to 132.20 yen from 131.76 yen in the US while slipping to $1.2868 from $1.2884.

Oil was up in Asia with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, adding 15 cents to $96.86 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for July delivery increasing 15 cents to $104.95.

Gold was at $1,387.90 at 0300 GMT from $1,349.38 late on Monday.

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