Asian markets were mixed Tuesday following a tepid performance on Wall Street, with profit-taking tempering hopes for Federal Reserve interest rate cuts next year and traders awaiting key US inflation data due later this week.
A string of indicators in recent months pointing to a slowing economy -- as well as a below-forecast rise in consumer prices -- have fuelled optimism that the US central bank has hiked borrowing costs for the last time this cycle.
That has led to speculation decision-makers have managed to walk the thin line between bringing inflation down and averting a recession.
However, analysts said there was a sliver of concern that the readings could point to weakness down the line.
In addition to the closely watched personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed's preferred guide on inflation, investors will be keeping watch this week on several other pointers, including consumer confidence and gross domestic product.
A number of central bank officials are also lined up to talk, including boss Jerome Powell, though they are expected to stick to their long-running line that their policy decisions will be based on data, and they see rates staying higher for longer to tame inflation completely.
"The market appears to have embraced the idea that slowing economic data will hasten the arrival of market-friendly rate cuts, even though the Fed has continued to telegraph otherwise," said Chris Larkin at E*Trade from Morgan Stanley.
"This week will provide plenty of opportunities for traders to decide whether that cooling trend is intact."
Data suggests traders see almost one percentage point of cuts through next year, with US Treasury yields continuing to come down from their 16-year highs last month.
In morning trade Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore were in the red, while Shanghai was flat.
Sydney, Seoul, Wellington, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta rose.
Expectations that rates will come down have put pressure on the dollar, which extended Monday's losses against the yen and pound.
Traders are also watching developments in oil markets as OPEC and its key allies gear up for a meeting that was delayed until November 30 after some African countries reportedly baulked at more production cuts proposed by Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis and Russia are thought to be considering announcing a further reduction in output into the new year as they try to prop up prices, which have come down owing to slowing economies and softening demand.
Key figures around 0230 GMT
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 33,370.40 (break)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.2 percent at 17,485.79
Shanghai - Composite: FLAT at 3,031.86
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 148.26 from 148.64 yen on Monday
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0954 from $1.0958
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2632 from $1.2627
Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.72 pence from 86.75 pence
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6 percent at $75.29 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.6 percent at $80.42 per barrel
New York - DOW: DOWN 0.2 percent at 35,333.47 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,460.70 (close)
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