Asian shares mixed before Fed chief speech

Asian shares were mixed Tuesday as fears about the eurozone and a slowdown in China were offset by hopes the US central bank chief would this week outline steps to boost the world's biggest economy.

Trade was light after US stocks ended mixed on Monday and the London stock exchange was closed for a public holiday.

Tokyo fell 0.57 percent, or 52.10 points, to 9,033.29, weighed down by a strong yen and a bleak government report, which cut its view on the economy for the first time in 10 months amid slow exports and consumer spending.

Seoul edged down 0.08 percent, or 1.54 points, to 1,916.33, with shares in Samsung Electronics rebounding 1.27 percent following a plunge on Monday after a US court fined the firm $1.05 billion for breaching Apple's patents.

Sydney gained 0.36 percent, or 15.7 points, to 4,359.4, while Hong Kong was flat, edging up 0.07 percent, or 13.13 points, to 19,811.80.

Shanghai jumped 0.85 percent, or 17.44 points, to 2,073.15 as investors cheered a plan by blue-chip Baoshan Iron and Steel to buy back its shares, raising hopes of similar moves by other companies, dealers said.

Asian shares have been driven higher in August on hopes of fresh central bank stimulus but the euphoria has been tempered in recent sessions by fears expectations may not be met.

Investors were waiting to see what central bankers say about stimulus measures when they meet in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke set for a key address on Friday.

"People are waiting for Jackson Hole," Paul Chan at Invesco in Hong Kong, told Dow Jones Newswires. "If anything disappoints the market, we could have a pretty nasty pullback."

US stocks were subdued on Monday before the meeting, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.25 percent, the S&P 500 off 0.05 percent, while a surge in Apple shares on its Samsung victory gave the tech-rich Nasdaq a small gain.

Traders are also hoping for hints about the European Central Bank's plans for a new programme to buy bonds of struggling eurozone states, and signals China could move to arrest its slowing growth by easing monetary policy.

"Investors are staying sluggish and balancing global easing expectations and worries over an economic slowdown in Europe and China," Tomoichiro Kubota, senior market analyst at Matsui Securities in Japan, told Dow Jones.

They were also waiting for the outcome of a meeting later Tuesday between European Union president Herman Van Rompuy and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

"Any hints as to how close Spain is to formally requesting assistance from her EU partners will be important given this is a precondition for the ECB resuming secondary market bond buying," National Australia Bank said in a note.

The euro slipped in Asia Tuesday after a key German business sentiment indicator released the previous day fell to its lowest level since March 2010.

The Ifo measure dropped for the fourth month running as Europe's biggest economy showed signs of being affected more and more by the eurozone crisis.

On currency markets in Asian afternoon trade, the euro bought $1.2488 and 98.08 yen, down from $1.2535 and 98.41 yen in New York late Monday.

The dollar also edged lower to 78.53 yen from 78.74 yen.

Oil slipped, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October, down one cent to $95.46 a barrel in volatile trade, and Brent North Sea crude for October delivery down three cents to $112.23.

Gold was at $1,661.90 at 1845 GMT compared to $1,670.90 on Monday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei fell 1.42 percent, or 106.28 points, to 7,361.94.

Hon Hai Precision shed 3.77 percent to Tw$84.2 while Acer was 1.32 percent lower at Tw$26.1.

-- Wellington rose 0.16 percent, or 5.82 points, to 3,629.05.

Telecom Corp rose 0.62 percent to NZ$2.43.

-- Manila rose 0.63 percent, or 32.27 points, to 5,175.62.

Alliance Global Group Inc rose 4.09 percent to 11.72 pesos and Metropolitan Bank and Trust added 0.81 percent to 93.55 pesos.

-- Singapore closed down 0.15 percent, or 4.42 points, to 3,040.07.

Singapore Airlines gained 0.56 percent to Sg$10.80 and Sembcorp Industries added 0.55 percent to Sg$5.49.

-- Kuala Lumpur stocks fell 0.06 percent, 1.02 points, to close at 1,647.11.

Hong Leong Bank lost 1.2 percent to 13.50 ringgit, Tenaga Nasional shed 0.7 percent to 6.82 while AirAsia gained 0.6 percent to 3.55 ringgit.

-- Jakarta fell 0.07 percent, or 3.03 points, to 4,142.85.

Coal company Bumi Resources fell 15 percent to 760 rupiah, heavyweight Telkom slid 1.6 percent to 9,300 rupiah and mining company Aneka Tambang fell 0.78 percent to 1,270 rupiah.

-- Bangkok fell 0.05 percent, or 0.57 points, to 1,233.16.

Power giant EGCO rose 1.73 percent to 117.50 baht while Siam City Cement lost 2.31 percent to 338.00 baht.

-- Mumbai fell 0.27 percent or 47.10 points to 17,631.71.

Sterlite Industries, the local arm of global resources group Vedanta, fell 5.13 percent to 104.5 rupees while private steel producer Jindal Steel slid 4.88 percent to 358.75.


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