Asian markets were mixed early Friday as cautious investors await the Bank of Japan’s decision on monetary stimulus. Any indication its stimulus policy is coming to an end is seen to cause nervousness, while an unexpectedly aggressive stimulus would likely be well received by stock markets.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.3 percent at 16, 411.39. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.5 percent at 22,059.85. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was down 0.1 percent at 5,556.00. China’s Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.1 percent to 2,992.34. South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.1 percent at 2,023.71. In Southeast Asia, the stock indices of Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia were up, but Singapore’s was down.
“The Japanese stock market in particular is likely to be nervous about failure to act and any indication that the BOJ’s stimulus policy is coming to an end,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. “On the other hand an unexpectedly aggressive stimulus involving helicopter money would be well received by stock markets.”
Stocks had another day of meager gains on Thursday as investors worked through a new batch of mixed company earnings, including results from Facebook, Ford and Whole Foods and looked ahead to a meeting of the Bank of Japan. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 15.82 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,456.35. Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.48 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,170.06 and the Nasdaq composite rose 15.17 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,154.98.
After the market’s run-up this month, investors have mostly been in wait-and-see mode this week and the overall market has been relatively quiet. Market strategists have said that stocks have gotten expensive in recent days, and many investors are waiting for earnings to play out before making any major moves.
In currencies, the dollar fell to 104.53 yen. It was unchanged at 105.45 yen on Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1084 from $1.1081 from the previous day.
In the energy market, benchmark U.S. crude lost 1 cent to $41.13 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 78 cents to close at $41.14 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 4 cents to $43.27 in London. It lost $1.40 to close at $43.47 the previous day.