Asian stocks drift after US pulls back from highs

Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets drifted lower Tuesday after U.S. indexes pulled back from record highs and investors awaited fresh data from China.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index tracked Wall Street's declines, slipping 0.2 percent to 15,351.25 despite fresh data showing the current account surplus was larger than expected in May.

South Korea's Kospi fell 0.1 percent to 2,003.21 after Samsung announced its operating profit fell 24 percent from a year earlier in the April-June quarter due to the strong won and slowing smartphone sales in China.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 23,509.77. Elsewhere in Asia, shares were lower in Shanghai, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan but rose in Indonesia and Malaysia.

China is due to release inflation figures, which are a key indicator for both policy and economic performance, on Wednesday. Meanwhile, investors are also watching for the outcome of a presidential election Thursday in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation and the third-largest democracy.

"With a lack of strong catalysts for the market today, investors are likely to position themselves for tomorrow's data from China ... and developments from the Indonesian elections," IG said in a market commentary.

Global stock markets fell Monday after U.S. indexes last week rallied to new highs following a government report that showed the world's largest economy generated a stronger-than-expected 288,000 jobs in June.

As investors began bracing for earnings reports in the coming weeks, the Dow fell 0.3 percent to 17,024.21, having closed above 17,000 for the first time on Thursday. The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent to 1,977.65.

In Europe, France's CAC-40 fell 1.4 percent to close at 4,405.76 while Germany's DAX dropped 1 percent to 9,906.07. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.6 percent to 6,823.51.

In energy markets, U.S. crude for August delivery was down 8 cents to $103.435 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 53 cents to close at $103.53 on Monday.

In currency trading, the euro slipped to $1.3603 from $1.3608 on Monday. The dollar was little changed at 101.83 yen from 101.82 yen.