Asian markets mostly gain ahead of central bank meetings

Asian markets mostly gained in muted early trading Tuesday, as investors awaited key central bank meetings later this week.

Japan’s Nikkei












NIK, -0.57%










  slipped 0.2% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index












HSI, +0.69%










  rose 0.7%. The Shanghai Composite












SHCOMP, +0.08%










  inched up 0.1%, about the same as the smaller-cal Shenzhen Composite












399106, +0.24%










 . South Korea’s Kospi












180721, +0.46%










  gained 0.5% while benchmark indexes in Taiwan












Y9999, +0.11%










 , Singapore












STI, +0.88%










  and Indonesia












JAKIDX, +0.74%










  advanced. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200












XJO, +0.38%










  rose 0.4%.

Among individual stocks, SoftBank Group












9984, -2.49%










  fell in Tokyo trading, while Fast Retailing












9983, -0.61%










  and Yahoo Japan












4689, +2.29%










  rose. In Hong Kong, Galaxy Entertainment












27, +1.66%










  and WH Group












288, +1.76%










  gained. Samsung advanced in South Korea. In Australia, Beach Energy












BPT, +1.55%










  advanced.

The U.S. Federal Open Market Committee will hold a two-day meeting starting Tuesday. Traders will keep a close watch on a policy statement, to be released Wednesday, and a news conference held by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell shortly after that.

Powell will likely stick to the theme of a speech he made earlier this month: That the Fed will act if it thinks the Trump administration’s trade conflicts are threatening the U.S. economy.

Financial markets had rallied on the remarks, which fueled hopes that the Fed would cut interest rates this year. Although a rate cut isn’t expected this time around, fresh comments from Powell could support another wave of buying or have investors swing the other way.

“With scant data releases and no significant developments on the trade front, the mood in Asia will likely remain cautious with investors awaiting the FOMC meeting and possible adjustments to the dot plots before taking on substantial bets,” ING economists Nicholas Mapa and Prakash Sakpal said in a commentary.

Central banks in Britain and Japan will also announce their latest monetary policy decisions this week.

On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia released minutes from a policy meeting in June, which saw it easing its cash rate to 1.25%. According to the minutes, members agreed that further rate cuts were “more likely than not” in the period ahead, although there were other ways to reduce unemployment.

Trading was choppy on Wall Street on Monday, weighed by uncertainty over the U.S.-China trade dispute.

But most indexes finished the day with slight gains. The S&P 500 index












SPX, +0.09%










  edged 0.1% higher to 2,889.67 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average












DJIA, +0.09%










  also rose 0.1% to 26,112.53. The Nasdaq composite












COMP, +0.62%










  climbed 0.6% to 7,845.02.

Benchmark U.S. crude












CLN19, -0.10%










  dropped 4 cents to $51.89 a barrel. The contract gave up 58 cents to $51.93 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude












BRNQ19, -0.07%










 , the international standard, shed 5 cents to $60.89 a barrel.

The dollar












USDJPY, -0.20%










  slipped to 108.35 Japanese yen from 108.53 yen.

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