Asian shares were mostly lower Thursday despite gains on Wall Street as a weaker dollar negatively impacted Japanese stocks and investors weighed risks given the Federal Reserve’s cautious stance about tightening rates.
Financial markets were closed for holidays in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.8 percent to 16,704.63. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 slipped was almost unchanged at 5,368.60. South Korea’s KOSPI was 0.5 percent lower at 2,016.29. The Philippines’ PSE index was down 0.8 percent at 7,651.78, Singapore’s FTSE Strait Times index was up 0.5 percent at 2,878.91.
“The Fed being more cautious about tightening rates should negatively impact stocks, since they are worried about the state of the economy and its ability to withstand higher interest rates,” said IG Market Strategist Bernard Aw. “Make no mistake, the cautious undertone pervades the financial markets.”
Stocks rose for a third straight day Wednesday as machinery and mining companies traded higher. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 66.77 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,005.05. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 6.99 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,119.12. The Nasdaq composite added 12.89 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,974.64. The S&P 500 and oil prices are both at their highest levels since July, and the Nasdaq hasn’t been this high since Dec. 31.
Bank of Korea surprised investors by slashing its key interest rate to a record low 1.25 percent for the month of June. The move is the first rate cut in Asia’s fourth-largest economy in a year. Most market analysts had expected the bank to lower interest rates later in the year, anticipating slower growth in the second half. Low oil prices have hit South Korea shipyards and other major exporters.
Tokyo shares fell after the government reported that core domestic private machinery orders, excluding volatile orders for ships and electric utilities, fell 11 percent in April from the month before, suggesting prolonged weakness in capital investment. Foreign machinery orders also fell, 6.9 percent month-on-month in April.
U.S. crude gained 29 cents at $51.52 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped 87 cents on Wednesday to $51.23 a barrel. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose 15 cents to $52.66 a barrel in London. On Wednesday, it went up $1.07 to $52.51.
The dollar slid to 106.72 to the yen from 106.94 the previous day. The euro edged up to $1.1401 from $1.1397 on Wednesday.