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Asia markets close mixed as oil prices rise, traders watch central banks

  • Markets awaited speeches from key central bank officials, although analysts said it is unlikely that new revelations on monetary policy will unfold.
  • Investors digested the outcomes of the first meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Markets in Asia closed mixed on Monday as traders watched for signals from central bankers' speeches.

The Nikkei 225 rose 0.36 percent, or 71.74 points, to end at 20,225.09, while South Korea's benchmark Kospi index reversed earlier losses to close 0.14 percent, or 3.29 points, higher at 2,391.95.

The S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.1 percent, or 5.962 points, but finished off session lows at 5,714.2.

Greater China markets were mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gave up earlier gains to trade lower by 0.07 percent at 3:03 p.m. HK/SIN. The Shanghai Composite closed up by 0.19 percent, or 6.0708 points, at 3,191.5147, and the Shenzhen Composite inched higher by 0.092 percent, or 1.7408 points, to end at 1,898.5354.

Markets in Indonesia were closed for a public holiday.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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The markets were keeping an eye on potential developments in central bank rhetoric, with the European Central Bank Forum currently taking place in Portugal and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen due to speak in London on Tuesday.

"Despite the plethora of central bankers on tap, it's unlikely there will be any revelations on monetary policy forthcoming. And given the proximity to the recent Federal Open Market Committee (meeting), there will certainly be no back pedaling from Dr. Yellen," OANDA senior trader Stephen Innes said in a Tuesday note.

Investors also digested the outcome of the first meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump, which took place on Monday U.S. time. The two leaders discussed issues relating to trade and defense.

A significant number of small-cap Hong Kong shares across sectors sold off. Greater China Professional Services tumbled by 93.81 percent and China Jicheng plunged 93.93 percent. Despite the steep falls, the Hang Seng Stock Connect Hong Kong SmallCap Index was down by just 0.22 percent.

Hao Hong, managing director and head of research at BOCOM International, told CNBC that the sell-off looked like a liquidation of positions triggered by margin call.

"It was difficult to speculate what the trigger was. The Hong Kong Exchange has denied that it proposed to delist some shell companies. Some of the companies plunging today were flagged by (the media) to have accounting issues."

Japan's Toshiba could sign an agreement for the sale of its memory chip unit to a government-led consortium as soon as Tuesday, the Nikkei reported. Western Digital, which jointly runs Toshiba's main semiconductor plant, remains opposed to the sale. Toshiba shares declined 1.74 percent to close at 293 yen each.

Australian natural healthcare company Blackmores announced that the company's chief executive officer would be leaving. The company has asked Marcus Blackmore, its director, to take on the interim CEO position. Shares of the company closed down 4.41 percent at 89.81 Australian dollars each.

In energy news, oil prices climbed for the fourth straight session even though increasing crude production and oversupply worries persisted. Brent crude futures gained 0.89 percent to trade at $46.24 a barrel and U.S. crude futures rose 0.81 percent to trade at $43.73.

In currency news, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was a tad softer at 97.293 at 2:45 p.m. HK/SIN, compared with levels around the 97.4 handle seen in the last session.

Against the yen, the dollar strengthened to trade near a five-week high earlier in the session. The dollar/yen ceded some gains to last trade at 111.67.

Gold prices tumbled by almost $20 an ounce during London trading hours in the previous session. More than 1.8 million ounces of the yellow metal were traded within one minute, which was more than volumes traded during recent risk events, said ANZ Senior Economist Cherelle Murphy in a note. The move was possibly due to a mistake or human error, Reuters reported. Spot gold last traded at $1,242.40.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed after big name technology stocks traded lower. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 0.07 percent, or 14.79 points, at 21,409.55, the S&P 500 edged higher by 0.03 percent, or 0.77 point, to end at 2,439.07 and the Nasdaq declined 0.29 percent, or 18.1 points, to close at 6,247.15.