Asia Markets

Asia markets end lower; Yen jumps after Japan approves $132 billion stimulus package

A woman walks through heavy rain during a Typhoon 8 Signal Warning in the Stanley area of Hong Kong on September 29, 2011. On August 2, 2016, the Hong Kong Observatory issued another Typhoon 8 Signal Warning, which delayed the morning open of Hong Kong securities and derivatives markets.
Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Images

Asia markets closed mostly lower on Tuesday, with Australian shares falling despite another interest rate cut from the Reserve Bank of Australia, while the yen climbed after Japan's cabinet approved the government's stimulus package.

The benchmark ASX 200 closed down 46.89 points, or 0.84 percent, at 5,540.50. Shares did not move sharply after the decision as the market may have already priced a rate cut into stocks, with the stock index up more than 6 percent since the beginning of July.

The energy sub-index closed down 3.21 percent, likely on the back of lower oil prices overnight, when U.S. crude futures slipped below $40 a barrel for the first time since April.

The Australian dollar, which fell after the RBA cut its key cash rate by 25 basis points to a fresh record low of 1.50 percent, pared its losses against the greenback by evening local time. The Aussie traded as low as $0.7495 after the decision, compared with $0.7544 just before the RBA released its statement. As of 3 p.m. HK/SIN, the Aussie traded at $0.7546.

In Japan, the dropped 244.32 points, or 1.47 percent, to 16,391.45 ahead of the release of further details on Japan's hefty fiscal stimulus plan announced last week.

After the stock market closed and the stimulus package was approved by the cabinet, the Japanese yen strengthened against the dollar, with the currency pair dropping as low as 101.55 from levels as high as 102.81 earlier. The dollar/yen was at 101.77 as of 3:47 p.m. HK/SIN. That's down from levels between 104 and 106 last week before the Bank of Japan announced a smaller-than-expected monetary stimulus.

In South Korea, the Kospi slipped 10.58 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,019.03. Chinese mainland shares bucked the trend, closing higher, with the composite adding 17.54 points, or 0.59 percent, to 2,970.92 and the Shenzhen composite closing up by 14.04 points, or 0.73 percent, at 1,926.69.

Hong Kong markets didn't open on Tuesday, due to a typhoon warning issued by the Hong Kong Observatory.

Oil prices retreated further in late Asian trade, with U.S. crude futures down 0.15 percent at $39.99 as of 3:43 p.m. HK/SIN. Global benchmark Brent was off 0.05 percent at $42.12.

In Japan, the government approved 13.5 trillion yen ($132.04 billion) in fiscal measures, with 7.5 trillion yen in spending by the national and local government, reported Reuters. The measures were part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's 28 trillion yen fiscal stimulus package announced last week in a bid to boost the country's moribund economy.

But not everyone believed that Abe's hefty stimulus package was enough to propel Japan's economy. Citigroup's chief economist Willem Buiter told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday that a one-time injection was not enough to boost an economy mired in deflation.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond (JGB) rose as high as negative 0.009 percent from an earlier low of negative 0.122 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.

The sell-off in JGBs may have been driven by disappointment that the BOJ did not increase its purchase of government bonds in its monetary policy announcement last week.

Many analysts had expected a hefty stimulus package to complement from the BOJ to complement Prime Minister Abe's fiscal stimulus package.

The central bank said it would increase its purchase of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), but left its interest rate unchanged and didn't expand its purchases of government bonds.

Down Under, RBA Governor, Glenn Stevens said in his policy statement that the global economy was growing at a lower-than-average pace, with conditions becoming more difficult for several emerging market economies.

Stevens added that subdued growth in labor costs and very low cost pressures around the world is expected to keep domestic inflation low.

Data released last month showed Australia's consumer price index rose 1 percent on-year in the June quarter, decelerating from a 1.3 percent rise in the March quarter. The RBA previously forecasted underlying inflation at between 1 and 2 percent in 2016 and then within 1.5 and 2.5 percent by June 2018.

"With inflation low, there was little standing in the way of the RBA cutting its cash rate further to support more growth and help to return inflation to target sooner than otherwise," said Paul Bloxham, chief economist for Australia & New Zealand at HSBC.

Bloxham expects RBA's growth and inflation forecasts in the quarterly official statement, due later in the week, to be "largely unchanged from May." He added it could be likely that the RBA would be in a wait-and-see mode over the next few months to assess the full effect of the 50 basis points in cuts delivered so far this year.

Elsewhere, data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed Australia's seasonally adjusted trade deficit for June came in at 3.19 billion Australian dollars ($2.4 billion), compared with the A$2 billion deficit estimated by a Reuters poll.

Australia's seasonally adjusted exports slipped 1 percent on-month, while imports climbed 2 percent for the same period.

ANZ economists Giulia Specchia and Jo Masters said in a note to clients, a decline in the value of resource exports was "the main factor behind the deterioration in the trade balance in June."

"The rise in imports may be good news for the domestic economy as a whole as it may reflect higher households' appetite for consumption," said Specchia and Masters.

Stateside, U.S. stocks closed mixed amid lower oil prices and economic data.

The closed 27.73 points, or 0.15 percent, lower at 18,404.51; the S&P 500 index ended down 2.76 points, or 0.13 percent, at 2,170.84, while the composite added 22.06 points, or 0.43 percent, to 5,184.20.

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