Asian stocks consolidate recent gains

Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets drifted Tuesday as a string of record highs on Wall Street instilled caution about further gains despite evidence of improving prospects for the global economy.

Since late last week, investors have digested a raft of positive news from major economies: additional monetary stimulus in Europe, a solid U.S. jobs report for May, stronger first quarter growth in Japan and an improvement in China's exports.

Indications that the U.S. economy is on a roll this quarter after a bumpy start to the year have helped push American stock benchmarks higher for the past month. But Asian markets largely marked time Tuesday, waiting for a new cue.

The Nikkei 225, the benchmark for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, edged down 0.4 percent to 15,069.35.

Measures including corporate tax cuts are expected to be announced in Japan later this month that will help keep the momentum for growth going in the region.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up 0.1 percent to 23,143.47 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.5 percent to 1,999.74.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,481.40. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly lower.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to close at 6,875 on Monday while Germany's DAX advanced 0.2 percent to 10,008.63, a record closing high. The CAC-40 in France added 0.2 percent to 4,589.12.

In the U.S., the Standard & Poor's 500 closed at another all-time high, rising 1.83 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,951.27.

The S&P 500 has been on a steady climb for three weeks, lifting the benchmark for most investment funds by 4 percent the last month.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 0.1 percent to 16,943.10 and the Nasdaq composite index gained 0.3 percent to 4,336.24.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude for July delivery was up 27 cents to $104.68 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.75 to close at $104.41 on Monday.

The dollar fell to 102.38 yen from 102.51 yen late Monday. The euro fell to $1.3589 from $1.3595.