SINGAPORE — Stocks across Asia-Pacific mostly fell on Tuesday, with Hong Kong dropping as markets in the city returned to trade from a holiday. Investors will closely watch Australia’s interest rate decision set to be released in the day ahead.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.56% as shares of Alibaba fell more than 5%, before last paring losses to lose 2.45%.
U.K.-based bank HSBC edged down 0.1%. On Friday, Reuters reported HSBC’s top shareholder Chinese insurance giant Ping An called for the bank’s break-up.
Ronald Wan, non-executive chairman at Partners Financial Holdings, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday: “When we look at this matter, we need to add in some sort of a political element as well.”
“Definitely the Hong Kong operation can be operating independently … separated from other parts of operation. I think it can follow the instruction of the government …more correctly,” Wan said. “For the global investors, I think they need to make a decision whether they should accept this … separation or spinoff.”
Economic data in the day ahead includes Australia’s interest rate decision, which will be significant as analysts widely expect the first rate hike in more than a decade.
Australia’s central bank is expected to raise its official cash rate by 15 basis points to 0.25%, according to the median forecast of a Reuters poll of 32 economists.
Ahead of the decision, the Australian dollar rose to $0.7084, from levels around $0.704 earlier.
“After the much-stronger-than-expected Q1 inflation report, we expect the first in a series of hikes from the [Reserve Bank of Australia] today. The breadth and momentum of inflation in the Q1 [consumer price index] report strongly suggests that the RBA won’t wait for data on wages,” ANZ Research analysts Brian Martin and Daniel Hynes wrote in a note.
“This will be the first time the RBA has increased rates since November 2010,” they added.
Over in South Korea, the Kospi rose 0.3%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.31%.
Several markets are closed in the region for holidays, including China, Japan, Singapore and India. Hong Kong will return to trade from a holiday on Monday.
Over in Europe, shares in the region abruptly fell on Monday, driven by a brief crash in Swedish markets. It was caused by a single sell order trade from Citigroup, reportedly tied to a wrong calculation relating to a Nasdaq index that involved Swedish stocks.
In U.S. stocks, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite hit new lows for the year before closing in positive territory for the day.
The Nasdaq Composite rose 1.63% to 12,536.02, while the S&P 500 rose 0.57% to 4,155.38. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 84.29 points, or 0.26%, to close at 33,061.50. The Dow was down more than 500 points at its session lows.
Financial markets expect the U.S. central bank on Wednesday to announce a half-percentage point increase in the Fed’s benchmark interest rate.
Currencies and oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 103.507, falling from levels around 103.7 earlier.
The Japanese yen traded at 130.03 per dollar, as it stayed at levels weaker than 129.