By V. Phani Kumar, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Japanese and mainland Chinese stocks rebounded from a string of losses Tuesday, with a weakened yen lifting exporters in Tokyo, while Australian shares climbed after the central bank governor hinted at further interest rate cuts.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.17% jumped 1.5%, snapping a four-day losing streak that pulled the benchmark to its lowest level in more than a month on Monday.
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South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +1.69% ended 0.9% higher and the Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -0.19% rose 0.7%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.5%.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.99% overcame early losses to end little changed, and the local currency /zigman2/quotes/210560947/realtime/sampled AUDUSD +0.0803% tumbled after a speech by Reserve Bank of Australia Gov. Glenn Stevens. Stevens said recent data don’t appear to shift the central bank’s assessment that the inflation outlook left some scope to ease its policy further, if needed.
“The Reserve Bank Governor has delivered his clearest statement yet that super low interest rates are likely to be part of the economic landscape over the coming year,” said Savanth Sebastian, an economist at CommSec.
Most banks erased losses in Sydney after Gov. Stevens’s speech, with National Australia Bank Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/210431826/delayed AU:NAB +1.76% /zigman2/quotes/208329321/delayed NABZY -0.61% and Westpac Banking Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed AU:WBC +1.25% /zigman2/quotes/206661702/composite WBK -1.54% rising 0.1% each, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia /zigman2/quotes/200638713/delayed AU:CBA +0.65% /zigman2/quotes/207018701/delayed CBAUF +7.62% rose 0.2%.
Shares of Woolworths Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/209906204/delayed AU:WOW +0.29% /zigman2/quotes/208623225/delayed WOLWF -2.18% dropped 1.6% after the retailer reported only a modest sales growth in the fiscal fourth quarter.
The stocks performance in Asia followed a lower finish on Wall Street, after data showing U.S. pending home sales fell. The decline came as investors awaited the Fed’s decision, as well as Friday’s monthly nonfarm payrolls data for July.
The Fed is due to announce the outcome of its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, with expectations that it will offer further clues on how long it will maintain its bond purchases. Also, results from two separate surveys on Chinese manufacturing activity in July are due out Thursday.
Meanwhile, Indian stocks and the rupee fell after the Reserve Bank of India left its policy interest rate unchanged, as expected, and added the central bank will roll back its recent measures to support the local currency once stability returned to the foreign exchange markets. The RBI also lowered India’s economic growth forecast for the year ending March 31 to 5.5% from 5.7% earlier.
The 30-stock S&P BSE Sensex /zigman2/quotes/210597966/delayed IN:1 -0.58% fell 0.7% in afternoon trade. Shares of Tata Motors Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/209236910/delayed IN:500570 +0.37% /zigman2/quotes/209145303/composite TTM +6.22% fell 1.5% and aluminum producer Hindalco Industries Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201182001/delayed IN:500440 -3.49% gave up 4.5%, while ICICI Bank Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204318043/delayed IN:532174 -2.18% /zigman2/quotes/208917098/composite IBN +4.10% inched up 0.7%.
“The RBI decision to keep policy rates on hold primarily reflects their concerns about severe stress in the domestic foreign exchange market due to rupee depreciation,” Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for Asia Pacific at IHS Global Insight, said in emailed comments.
In Japan, a weakened yen provided a lift to shares of some exporters after recent heavy losses. Shares of Isuzu Motors Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202637468/delayed JP:7202 +3.01% /zigman2/quotes/206362374/delayed ISUZY +0.89% added 5% and Kobe Steel Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/207391157/delayed JP:5406 +2.40% jumped 6.9%.
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On the downside, shares of Hitachi Construction Machinery Co. /zigman2/quotes/205375504/delayed JP:6305 +3.52% /zigman2/quotes/202415695/delayed HTCMY +8.83% dropped 3% after its results fell short of expectations.
Official data released earlier Tuesday showed Japan’s industrial production unexpectedly fell a seasonally adjusted 3.3% in June from the level in May. Japanese household spending also declined, though the monthly unemployment rate eased to 3.9% from 4.1%.
The advance in Chinese equities was driven by gains in the beaten-down property sector. Shares of Gemdale Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208026094/delayed CN:600383 -2.88% jumped 3% and Poly Real Estate Group Co. /zigman2/quotes/201864015/delayed CN:600048 +0.07% added 1.9% in Shanghai, the yuan-denominated A shares of China Vanke Co. gained 1.2% in Shenzhen, and China Resources Land Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202417326/delayed HK:1109 -1.69% /zigman2/quotes/201656413/delayed CRBJF 0.00% rose 1.5% in Hong Kong.
Among other notable stock movers, shares of Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. /zigman2/quotes/208182033/delayed HK:1171 -0.65% /zigman2/quotes/203784640/delayed CN:600188 +0.12% plunged 9.3% in Hong Kong and lost 3.2% in Shanghai after warning it expected to post a loss for the first half of 2013.