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James Hyerczyk
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Asia-Pacific Shares

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed on Tuesday with shares in Australia and Japan bucking the trend with nearly 1% gains. Trading was relatively light as investors looked to a much-anticipated Federal Reserve policy meeting on Wednesday to see if the central bank would signal any change to the U.S. monetary policy outlook.

In the cash market on Tuesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 29441.30, up 279.50 or +0.96%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 28638.53, down 203.60 or -0.71% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 3258.63, up 6.50 or +0.20%.

Traders will look closely at any hints from the meeting’s final statement about whether and when the Fed plans to taper its bond buying program, amid concerns from some quarters about inflation as the U.S. economy bounces back from the pandemic fallout. The two-day meeting starts on Tuesday.

Japanese Shares Track NASDAQ Higher, Drug Makers Shine

Japanese shares closed higher on Tuesday, buoyed by technology and growth-oriented stocks following a strong finish on the NASDAQ Composite overnight, while drug makers extended their gains.

Growth stocks led the gains after NASDAQ shares outperformed on Wall Street, with the Topix Growth Index rising 1.09%, compared with 0.53% gains in value shares.

“Today’s (Tuesday) strong market finish is simply a reaction to the gains in the NASDAQ overnight,” said Jun Morita, general manager of the research department at Chibagin Asset Management.

Drug makers were the top gainers among the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 sectors with a rise of 1.65%. Eisai jumped 6.59%, making it the biggest gainer on the Nikkei.

Takeda Pharmaceutical, which is handling the supply of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine in Japan, rose 1.69% after clinical tests showed the U.S. firm’s vaccine candidate is more than 90% effective against a variety of variants of the virus.

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Australia Shares Close at Record High as RBA Signals Continued Dovish Policy

Australian shares closed at a record high on Tuesday, helped by gains among banking and healthcare stocks, and after minutes from the domestic central bank’s June meeting signaled a continuation of its accommodative stance.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is ready to extend its bond purchase program beyond September, minutes from its June policy meeting showed, with members calling the program “one of the factors underpinning the accommodative conditions necessary for the economic recovery”.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.
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