Australian stocks touch 6-year high as Asia trading muted ahead of key economic events


HONG KONG – Asian stocks were mixed Tuesday, with Australia’s benchmark briefly touching a six-year high while other markets lacked a clear focus as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of a number of economic data reports later this week.

Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose to 5,554.50 early in the session, the highest since June 2008, before retreating into negative territory. It was later trading 0.4 per cent lower at 5,511.60.

The movement in Australia followed a day of choppy trading on Wall Street, where stocks rose, fell and then rose again in the final hour of trading. Trading was also thin in Asia because markets were closed for a holiday in regional heavyweight Japan.

Investors were holding back ahead of a few key economic events, starting with the U.S. Federal Reserve wrapping up its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. That’s followed by April manufacturing data on Thursday for China, and then monthly U.S. payroll data on Friday, which could provide further insight into the state of the world’s two biggest economies.

South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1 per cent to 1,967.88 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.3 per cent to 22,204.36. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China edged up 0.1 per cent to 2,005.67.

On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.3 per cent to close at 1,869.43. The Dow rose 0.5 per cent to 16,448.74 and the Nasdaq edged down less than 0.1 per cent, to 4,074.40.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3863 from $1.3854 in late trading Monday. The dollar was practically unchanged at 102.50 Japanese yen.

In energy markets, benchmark crude for June delivery edged 4 cents higher to $100.88 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 24 cents to settle at $100.84 late Monday.

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