Asian markets pause ahead of U.S. inflation report

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Source: Market Watch Personal Finance

Investors in Asia-Pacific stock markets were cautious ahead of the latest U.S. reading on inflation, which is likely to give some idea about whether the Federal Reserve will accelerate its pace of rate increases.

Recent inflation reports from the U.S. have been sources of volatility in markets as investors try to guess the trajectory of Fed policy tightening.

“The spotlight will be on U.S. CPI tonight, and it was only one month ago a surprise inflation print sent the market into a tailspin,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia at currency broker Oanda.

After three straight sessions of gains for many stock markets in the region, shares were largely flat. Stocks were down in Singapore

STI, +0.20%

 , Shenzhen

399106, +0.05%

  and Australia, while shares in South Korea

SEU, +0.15%

 , Japan and Hong Kong

HSI, -0.07%

  made small gains.

Japan’s Nikkei stock benchmark

NIK, +0.58%

  was up fractionally after starting the day lower, showing resilience despite a stronger yen and continued calls for Finance Minister Taro Aso to resign over his ministry’s involvement in the altering of documents in a controversial land sale.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200

XJO, -0.36%

  slipped 0.6% as lower iron-ore prices hit miners and the start of a judicial inquiry into financial industry misconduct weighed on banks.

Taiwan’s Taiex benchmark

Y9999, +0.85%

  gained 0.4%, buoyed by 2.3% gains from Largan Precision

3008, +2.28%

  and Hon Hai Precision Industry

2317, +0.95%

 .

Overnight moves in U.S. stocks contributed to the subdued mood in Asia, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average snapping a two-session winning streak. Industrial giants like Boeing

BA, -2.91%

  and Caterpillar

CAT, -2.37%

  were down as investors continued to assess the Trump administration’s plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Still, the Nasdaq Composite

COMP, +0.36%

  climbed 0.4% as strength in tech stocks continued.

Chinese stocks were held back by news that the country was planning to merge its banking and insurance regulators. Beijing has previously tightened the screws on stock market investing by firms in these two sectors.

Source: Market Watch Personal Finance