Asian shares mixed as US data in focus

PHOTO: Asian shares mixed as US data in focus

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday as traders await the release of growth and jobs data out of the United States, while Tokyo was hit by a stronger yen and a slump by car giant Nissan.

The euro saw further selling pressure as investors bet the European Central Bank will cut interest rates following soft inflation data last week.

Tokyo was flat, Hong Kong dipped 0.83 per cent, Sydney was 0.75 per cent higher, Shanghai lost 1.00 per cent and Seoul fell 0.19 per cent.

Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur were closed for public holidays.

With few catalysts to drive buying, traders are looking to the US figures for a handle on when the Federal Reserve will begin reeling in its stimulus programme, which has been credited with a global stocks rally at the start of the year.

While a strong set of results on gross domestic product and non-farm payrolls will be positive economically, they would also suggest the bank will start winding down the programme - which is worth $85 billion a month - sooner than later.

Wall Street saw small gains, with the Dow up 0.16 per cent, the S&P 500 rising 0.36 per cent and the Nasdaq adding 0.37 per cent.

In currency trade the dollar edged down Tuesday after enjoying a recent rally on the speculation over Fed tapering.

The greenback was quoted at 98.37 yen in early Tokyo trade, compared with 98.59 yen in New York. However, it is still up from 97.92 yen in Asia on Friday. Japanese markets were closed Monday for a public holiday.

The euro continued to fall after data showed eurozone inflation at a four-year low in October, fuelling talk the ECB will cut interest rates.

The single currency fetched $1.3505 and 132.93 yen on Tuesday, against $1.3516 and 133.25 yen in US trade.

On Japan's Nikkei index, Nissan sank 11.55 per cent after slashing its full-year earnings forecast by about 15 per cent on Friday, blaming expensive recalls and sluggish sales in Europe.

Sony, which tumbled 11.13 per cent on Friday after cutting its full-year outlook by 40 per cent, also edged down Tuesday.

In oil trade New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for December delivery, gained 20 cents to $94.82 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for December climbed 15 cents to $106.38.

Gold dropped to $1,316.34 per ounce at 0200 GMT, compared with $1,313.60 on Monday.