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Asian Stocks Mixed Ahead of Fed Speech 08/26 06:17

   Asian stock markets were mixed Friday, with investors preferring to sit on 
the sidelines ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's speech 
for cues on the timing of the next policy rate hike.

   MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Asian stock markets were mixed Friday, with 
investors preferring to sit on the sidelines ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve 
Chairwoman Janet Yellen's speech for cues on the timing of the next policy rate 
hike. In Japan, consumer prices posted their biggest annual drop in three years 
in July due to weak consumption, increasing pressures on the central bank to 
further boost its economic stimulus program.

   KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.2 percent at 16,360.71. Hong Kong' 
Hang Seng index rose 0.3 percent to 22,881.91. China's Shanghai Composite was 
nearly flat at 3,068.71. Australia's S&P ASX 200 slid 0.5 percent to 5,515.50. 
South Korea's KOSPI fell 0.3 percent at 2,037.50. Southeast Asian markets were 
mixed.

   WALL STREET: Stocks fell in light trading for a second day on Thursday as 
investors sifted through a mix of earnings reports. The major indexes wavered 
between small gains and losses in the morning then moved lower in the afternoon 
as investors dumped health care stocks. Disappointing earnings from a few 
retailers helped push down stocks of companies that rely on consumer spending. 
The losses were modest, and both the Standard & Poor's 500 index and Dow Jones 
industrial average remain close to their record highs hit last week. The Dow 
Jones industrial average fell 33.07 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,448.41. The 
S&P 500 gave up 2.97 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,172.47. The Nasdaq composite 
edged down 5.49 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,212.20.

   ANALYST TAKE: "(Yellen's speech) is the big event that the markets 
anticipated, and it has the potential to create waves within the calmness that 
has prevailed throughout this month," said Margaret Yang, market analyst as CMC 
Markets Singapore. She said that aside from less risk-taking ahead of the 
speech at the Jackson Hole meeting, momentum and trading volumes are fading in 
the equities market, with sentiments more fragile in the backdrop of slumping 
commodities, weak demand and overcapacity in emerging economies.

   JAPAN DATA: Japan's core consumer price index that includes all items except 
fresh food dropped 0.5 percent in July from a year earlier, according to data 
released Friday by the Japan's Statistics Bureau. The rate reflects the biggest 
decline since March 2013 and adds pressure to the central bank to further 
expand an already massive economic stimulus program. Overall inflation was down 
0.4 percent from a year ago.

   OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil shed 13 cents at $47.20 a barrel from $47.33. 
Brent crude, used to price oil internationally, slipped 20 cents to $49.47 a 
barrel.

   CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 100.46 yen after closing at 100.58 the 
previous day. The euro rose to $1.1301 from $1.1285.


(KA)

 
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