Asian stock markets cautious before Fed, oil on defensive

Asian stock markets: Investor caution ahead of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate meeting capped Asian stocks on Tuesday, while crude oil prices retreated as global growth worries overshadowed supply concerns stemming from recent Middle East tensions.

Asian Stock Markets

  • The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.25%.
  • MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.2%.
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.15%
  • Japan’s Nikkei dipped 0.3%.
  • The S&P 500 has gained 5% this month after sliding in May on trade war fears.

Currency

The central bank cut rates to a record low of 1.25% at its meeting earlier this month, to support the slowing economy.

Concerns that arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson will replace Theresa May as prime minister have dogged sterling.

  • The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies stood little changed at 97.468.
  • The euro was a shade higher at $1.1231.
  • The pound extended an overnight slump and brushed $1.2512.
  • The Australian dollar fell to a fresh five-month low of $0.6851 after minutes from the RBA’s June meeting showed the central bank thinks it may have to ease policy again to push down unemployment and revive wages and inflation.

Oil Prices

Concerns over weakening demand overshadowed tensions in the Middle East, which remained high following last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

  • U.S. crude oil futures shed 0.13% to $51.86 per barrel after retreating 1.1% the previous day.
  • Brent crude lost 0.2% to $60.81 per barrel following Monday’s loss of 1.7%.
  • Oil prices had fallen on Monday as weak Chinese economic data released at the end of last week led to fears of lower global demand for the commodity

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