TOKYO — Asian stocks were mixed in listless trading Wednesday ahead of key jobs data later this week in the U.S. that could lead to higher interest rates.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.8 percent to 16,857.07 in morning trading. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.3 percent to 2,033.35. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up nearly 0.1 percent to 23,033.97, while the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.1 percent to 3,071.32.
FED FACTOR: Investors continue to wait to see whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year, after comments from Federal Reserve Chair Yellen and Vice Chair Stanley Fisher at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming last week as signs the Fed is ready to raise interest rates later this year.
JOBS DATA: The next key piece of U.S. economic data is coming on Friday with the August jobs report. Economists expect employers added 182,500 jobs in August and that the unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.8 percent. A strong jobs report would give the Federal Reserve additional ammunition to raise interest rates either at its September meeting or later this year.
WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 48.69 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,454.30, amid extremely light trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.26 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,176.12 and the Nasdaq composite fell 9.34 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,222.99.
ENERGY: In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 9 cents to $46.26. It fell 63 cents to $46.35 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price oil internationally, fell 8 cents to $48.65 a barrel.
THE QUOTE: “U.S. rate hike fever continues dominating the foreign exchange landscape. The U.S. dollar is trading favorably despite the next major catalyst, Friday’s jobs report. The market is stuck between the good cop, bad cop performance from Yellen and Fischer at Jackson Hole,” says Stephen Innes, senior trader at Oanda.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 102.95 yen from 102.33 yen late Tuesday. The euro slipped to $ 1.1159 from $1.1174.
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