Asia stocks wobble as focus turns to US inflation data, Fed outlook


Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2%. The index is up 0.5% so far this month. U.S. stock futures EScv1 rose 0.07%.Japan's Nikkei .N225 slid 0.81% while Australian shares were flat.China's blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 was down 0.31% in early trade. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index .HIS opened 0.12% lower.

Asian shares were down on Tuesday as financial markets fretted about persistent global cost pressures, with investors turning their focus this week to U.S. inflation data and the prospects for further aggressive Federal Reserve rate hikes.

The unexpectedly strong U.S. jobs data on Friday have raised the stakes for the July U.S. consumer prices report due on Wednesday, especially for the Fed's policy outlook.

"U.S. stocks were struggling to hold on to gains, as the focus moves from a robust U.S. labour market to the U.S. CPI data out later this week," ANZ analysts said in a note.

"The priority of reducing inflation to underpin the expansion in domestic demand and sustainable jobs growth will ring loud and clear from the 25-27 August Jackson Hole symposium."

Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2%. The index is up 0.5% so far this month. U.S. stock futures EScv1 rose 0.07%.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 slid 0.81% while Australian shares were flat.

China's blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 was down 0.31% in early trade. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index .HIS opened 0.12% lower.

On Monday, Wall Street closed mostly flat after blockbuster jobs data last week reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will crack down on inflation, while a revenue warning from chipmaker Nvidia reminded investors of a slowing U.S. economy.

Investors now await consumer price data on Wednesday to gauge whether the Fed might ease a bit in its inflation fight and provide a better footing for the economy to grow.

There were some encouraging signs for the Fed on the prices front, with a New York Fed survey on Monday showing consumers' inflation expectations fell sharply in July.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 0.09% while the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.12% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 0.1%.

Bonds also got a safe-haven bid due to unease over Beijing's sabre rattling against Taiwan amid days of Chinese military exercises around the island.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR rose to 2.7517% compared with its U.S. close of 2.763% on Monday. The two-year yield US2YT=RR, which rises with traders' expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 3.2115% compared with a U.S. close of 3.216%.

The dollar index =USD, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies of other major trading partners, was up at 106.37.

Oil prices continued their recent retreat after suffering the worst week since April on worries about stalling global demand as central banks keep tightening. O/R

U.S. crude CLc1 dipped 0.19% to $90.59 a barrel. Brent crude LCOc1 fell to $96.48 per barrel.

The rise in the dollar was a setback for gold XAU=, though it had managed to bounce from the lows hit on Friday and was traded at $1788.7731 per ounce. GOL/= Reuters

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