Asian Shares Mixed as Markets Await Central Banker Meeting

HONG KONG (AP) -
A man looks at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Asian stocks were mixed Monday as investors kept a wary eye on joint military drills between U.S. and South Korean forces and awaited a key meeting of central bankers later this week.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4 percent to 19,399.01 and South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.1 percent to 2,355.11. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent to 27,189.02 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent to 3,277.54. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.6 percent to 5,710.80. Taiwan’s benchmark crept higher and indexes in Southeast Asia were mixed.

Central bank officials from around the world will be gathering for an annual three-day conference at a mountain resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, starting Thursday. Investors will be scrutinizing remarks from the policymakers due to speak, including Fed chief Janet Yellen and European Central Bank head Mario Draghi, for any hints on the future direction of interest rates and economic stimulus programs, which will have implications for global stock markets.

“All eyes turn to Wyoming this week, where central bank heads and academics come together to swap ideas, and this time, in all probability, to ask, ‘Where on earth is the inflation we all expected, and what do we do with rates?'” said ING Economist Rob Carnell.

Major U.S. benchmarks turned negative in the final minutes of trading on Friday, falling to their lowest levels since early July. The S&P 500 lost 0.2 percent to close at 2,425.55. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.3 percent to 21,674.51. The Nasdaq composite shed 0.1 percent to 6,216.53.

U.S. benchmark crude oil futures were flat at $48.51 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $1.42, or 3 percent, to settle at $48.51 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, dipped 2 cents to $52.70 a barrel in London.

The dollar edged higher to 109.25 yen from 109.20. The euro slipped to $1.1750 from $1.1761.