Asian Shares Drift After U.S. Fall, Before Europe Bank Meeting

HONG KONG (AP) -
Men walk past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Asian shares were drifting Thursday as Wall Street’s retreat from recent record highs and a widely awaited European Central Bank meeting gave investors reason to pause.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged 0.1 percent higher to 21,731.52 while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.3 percent to 2,484.52. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.3 percent to 28,223.48 but the Shanghai Composite in mainland China added 0.3 percent to 3,407.04. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 reversed early losses to rise 0.2 percent to 5,916.30. Taiwan’s benchmark fell while Southeast Asian indexes were mixed.

The European Central Bank’s policy meeting, where it’s expected to sketch out a plan to exit its extraordinary stimulus program, is shaping up to be the day’s big market moving event. The euro was rising as investors awaited ECB chief Mario Draghi’s blueprint on phasing out its 60 billion euro ($71 billion) monthly bond purchase program, with attention focused on whether it’s going to be withdrawn more quickly or slowly than expected.

Investors were digesting the latest round of quarterly corporate earnings reports. South Korean automaker Hyundai Motors reported net income plunged by a fifth in the July-September period, adding to a nearly four-year-long losing streak. Germany’s Deutsche Bank reported that net income more than doubled on cost cuts. They follow shaky earnings reports from U.S. companies including telecom giant AT&T, aerospace company Boeing and chip-maker Advanced Micro Devices.

Anticipation is building for President Donald Trump’s decision on who should lead the Federal Reserve once current Chair Janet Yellen’s term expires in February. His choice is expected before he leaves for an Asia trip on Nov. 3. In an interview, he praised Yellen but also acknowledged his conflicting desire to make his own mark. Among the four other candidates, Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is now seen as out of the running.

Major U.S. benchmarks lost ground as a string of poor earnings reports hit investor sentiment. The S&P 500 shed 0.5 percent to 2,557.15. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.5 percent to 23,329.46. The Nasdaq composite sank 0.5 percent to 6,563.89.