Shares In Asia Mostly Weaker, RBA Holds Steady As Expected


Asian shares were mostly weaker on Tuesday in cautious trade ahead of key events later in the week with Britain heading to polls on Thursday and former FBI chief James Comey set to testify to Congress.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.59% after Japan reported average cash earnings rose 0.5% for April, compared with a 0.3% gain seen year on year.

The S&P/ASX 200 tumbled 1.26%, driven by broad declines in the utilities, financials and energy sub-indexes. Major banking and resource stocks traded in the red. The Reserve Bank of Australia held steady at 1.5% as expected in its latest interest rate decision. Earlier, Australia reported the current account widened to a deficit of A$3.1 billion, compared with a surplus of A$100 million seen for the first quarter.

The Hang Seng Index, however, rose 0.35% and the Shanghai Composite shed 0.22%. South Korean markets are closed for Memorial Day.

Overnight, U.S. stocks closed lower but remained at near record levels, as downbeat economic data weighed on the prospect of stronger U.S. economic growth while shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) slid, following a rare downgrade.

U.S. stocks had a negative start to the week, as all three indexes closed lower on Monday after geopolitical tensions resurfaced while data showed a slight dip in U.S. services activity.

U.S. non-manufacturing activity grew at a slower pace in May, as the Institute for Supply Management on Monday said its non-manufacturing index fell 0.6 points to 56.9 in May.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said Monday that Factory orders dipped 0.2% in April in line with forecasts.

Geopolitical tensions triggered demand for safe havens, albeit briefly, after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for July delivery fell 0.55% to settle at $47.40 a barrel.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 21,118.04, down 0.10%. The S&P 500 closed 0.12% lower while the Nasdaq Composite closed at 6295.98, down 0.64%.

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