Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as fears about political risks in Europe sapped investors’ appetite for risk and helped spur demand for safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen and gold. Trading volumes remained thin across the region amid public holidays in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Oil prices dipped on persisting concerns about oversupply while the yen rallied after a round of positive economic data. The euro remained under selling pressure after ECB President Mario Draghi told European lawmakers in Brussels that the euro zone economy still needs a “fairly substantial amount” of monetary stimulus to restore stable inflation.
The British pound also weakened against the dollar after a poll published on Tuesday showed British Prime Minister Theresa May’s lead over the opposition Labour Party dropped to 6 percentage points.
Investors kept an eye on the U.S. jobs report due this Friday after Fed Bank of San Francisco President John Williams said three interest-rate increases this year makes sense.
Japanese shares ended little changed as the yen strengthened amid the prospect of early elections in Italy and concerns about a Greek bailout. The Nikkei average slipped 4.72 points or 0.02 percent to 19,677.85, while the broader Topix index closed 0.16 percent higher at 1,572.67.
Takemoto Yohki tumbled 3.6 percent on fund raising reports. Takara Bio advanced 2.7 percent after announcing it had started first test of Phase II clinical trial of HF10 used to treat cancer.
In economic releases, Japanese household spending declined again in April, official figures showed today, while retail sales rose more than expected and the jobless rate held steady at a two-decade low in the month, Consumer price inflation rose an annual 0.3 percent, well below the BOJ’s 2 percent target.
Australian shares eked out modest gains, led by mining and banking stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 10.80 points or 0.19 percent to 5,717.90 while the broader All Ordinaries index…