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Asian stocks mixed ahead of US data; yen steady

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Asian equity traders adopted a cautious tone Tuesday, March 13, following a dip in US stocks, with focus turning to a U.S. inflation report for clues on the pace of Federal Reserve policy tightening. The dollar and Treasury yields held declines.

Japanese and Hong Kong equities drifted, while Australian shares fell and South Korea was little changed. Stocks in Shanghai inched lower. The S&P 500 Index slipped overnight following its biggest rally in five weeks that was spurred by a better-than-expected jobs report. The yen maintained most gains as political clouds gathered around Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso. The U.S. 10-year yield held at 2.87 percent after Monday’s Treasury auction was broadly in line with expectations.

Investors are looking to American inflation and retail sales data followed by reports on Chinese industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment to provide direction for markets this week. The U.S. inflation reading is the last major piece of data ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting next week.

Politics also remain in focus after President Donald Trump issued an executive order blocking Broadcom Ltd. from acquiring Qualcomm Inc., scuttling a $117 billion hostile takeover that had been subject of scrutiny over the deal’s threat to U.S. national security.

Elsewhere, crude oil slipped back below $62 a barrel. Industrial metals prices slumped.

Here are some of the key things happening this week:

China data on industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment all out on Wednesday are likely to point to slower growth, according to Bloomberg Economics forecasts. Key indicators for the Fed dominate the economic agenda in the coming week. Headline inflation may have edged up to 2.2 percent in February from 2.1 percent, though consensus before Tuesday’s report is for core inflation to remain at 1.8 percent. Prices and factory output are focal points in the euro area. Friday’s second inflation report for February may touch 1.2% from 1.1% the previous month. Also this week, Germany’s Angela Merkel is inaugurated to a fourth term, EU27 government officials discuss the European Union’s Brexit position, and U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond issues his spring statement.
And these are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

Japan’s Topix index slid less than 0.1 percent as of 12:42 p.m. in Tokyo. South Korea’s Kospi index was up 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.2 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 percent. S&P 500 Index futures were flat. The underlying measure lost 0.1 percent.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index held on to Monday’s 0.3 percent drop. The yen fell 0.1 percent at 106.49 per dollar. The euro was flat at $1.2335. The pound was steady at $1.3901.
Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries held at 2.87 percent. Australia’s 10-year yield was steady at 2.81 percent.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude held onto losses after decreasing 1.1 percent, to trade at $61.23 a barrel. Gold rose 0.1 percent to $1,321.32 an ounce. — Bloomberg