By Investors Hub
Most Asian stocks fell on Tuesday in thin holiday trade as markets in China and Taiwan remained closed for the Lunar New Year holidays.
In the absence of any lead from Wall Street and amid weak cues from Europe, investors awaited minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting and a slew of speeches by Fed officials this week to assess the outlook for rate tightening.
Japanese shares fell sharply after three successive days of gains. The Nikkei average tumbled 224.11 points or 1.01 percent to 21,925.10 after climbing 2 percent in the previous session. The broader Topix index closed 0.72 percent lower at 1,762.45.
Market heavyweight Fast Retailing lost 2.2 percent, Fanuc shed 2.5 percent and SoftBank Corp declined 0.9 percent.
Canon, Toyota Motor and Honda Motor fell 1-2 percent as the yen traded firm ahead of the FOMC meeting minutes coming out on Wednesday.
Banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial ended down over 1 percent while insurer T&D Holdings retreated 2.3 percent.
Australian shares ended in the red, dragged down by banks and miners. The S&P/ASX200 index ended marginally lower at 5,940.90 while the broader All Ordinaries index closed flat with a positive bias.
ANZ Bank slid 0.3 percent despite reporting reported a fall in impaired assets in the first quarter. The other three banks fell between 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent while Insurance Australia Group lost over 1 percent.
Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto dropped around half a percent each to extend losses for the second straight session. Super Retail Group plummeted as much as 14.5 percent after it decided to acquire adventure wear chain Macpac.
Woodside Petroleum advanced 1.6 percent and Origin Energy added 1 percent as oil hovered near two-week highs on rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.
On the economic front, Australia’s consumer confidence weakened for the second straight time during the week ended February 18, a weekly survey compiled by the ANZ bank and Roy Morgan Research showed.
Separately, minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s February 6 meeting revealed that board members expect the economy to grow more or less on par with expectations.
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