Most Asian markets ended slightly down Monday as Hong Kong fell ahead of a week full of earnings although Japanese stocks were helped by a weaker yen.
“The eventual bias is skewed downwards, as the recent market rally had priced in plenty of expectations for easing actions from both the U.S. and Europe, and further economic stimulus measures from China,” said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer at KGI Asia.
The dollar rose against a number of regional Asian currencies following data Friday showing improved U.S. consumer sentiment which lowered the chances of a new round of monetary stimulus. This prompted a continuation in the shift away from the region’s safe haven currency. At Y79.50, the dollar had stabilized against the yen, after gaining 1.7% against the Japanese currency last week.
The recent softening of the yen is still enough to lure investors back into Japanese equities, though the benefits diminished as the market was caught up in the region’s lackluster mood. The Nikkei ended up just 0.1% at 9171.16, as local exporters continued to climb. Canon was up 0.4% and Panasonic added 0.5%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped less than 0.1% to 20,104.27 as investors started to get into position for a week that will be dominated by earnings reports. With more than 300 companies announcing results this week there could be plenty of volatility in individual stocks.