Asian stocks mixed in muted trading, echoing Wall St close

Asian shares are trading mixed, echoing Wall Street’s mixed close last week

TOKYO — Asian shares were mixed Monday, echoing Wall Street’s mixed close last week.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei added 0.2% in morning trading to 28,381.13. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.3% to 3,147.23, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 inched up less than 0.1% to 7,031.50. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.9% to 28,217.82, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.4% to 3,473.43.

Several central bank rate decisions are expected in the region this week, in New Zealand, South Korea and Indonesia.

Although Japanese shares were higher, risks remain as the government prepares to extend a “state of emergency” to curb coronavirus infections in some areas, beyond the initial ending date of May 31, said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG in Singapore.

The uneven rollout for the vaccines against COVID-19 remains a factor for regional markets. Although vaccinations have gradually started in Japan, for medical professionals and the elderly, a separate effort to inoculate people at different sites began Monday. So far, about 5% of the population has gotten at least one shot.

On Wall Street on Friday, the S&P 500 ended 0.1% lower to 4,155.86, losing 0.4% for the week. That followed a 1.4% loss the week before.

The Nasdaq slid 0.5% to 13,470.99. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fared better, gaining 0.4% to 34,207.84. The Russell 2000 index picked up 0.3% to 2,215.27.

Worries remain that inflation may cause central banks to pull back on efforts to support growth. The U.S. Federal Reserve has said it expects any bump in inflation to be temporary.

Analysts have also said investors are looking further ahead, beyond the recovery, and are wary about potential tax changes and the impact they may have on growth. Also on investors’ minds is Bitcoin, whose pricing has turned choppy lately.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude gained 58 cents to $64.16 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.64 to $63.58 on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 50 cents to $66.94 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar slipped to 108.87 Japanese yen from 108.91 yen late Friday. The euro was unchanged at $1.2181.

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