Asia markets: Focus on dollar, earnings

In Asia, futures tipped a slightly lower open for Japanese equities. Nikkei futures traded in Chicago were off 0.12 percent at 19,730 and Osaka futures were lower by 0.07 percent at 19,740. Both were a tad below the Nikkei 225’s previous close of 19,753.31.

Australian SPI futures were down 1.02 percent at 5,699 compared to the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index’s Tuesday close of 5,757.483.

Major indexes on Wall Street closed mostly flat after retail stocks recorded sharp losses. The Dow Jones industrial average closed just above the flat line at 21,998.99, rising just 0.02 percent, or 5.28 points. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 edged down 0.05 percent, or 1.23 points, to close at 2,464.61 and the Nasdaq shed 0.11 percent, or 7.22 points, to finish the session at 6,333.01.

In currencies, the dollar strengthened against the yen overnight, with the greenback fetching 110.63 yen at 6:58 a.m. HK/SIN. That was above the 109 handle seen since the middle of last week when geopolitical tensions over the Korean peninsula ramped up.

Oil prices were mostly flat on Tuesday as the dollar gained and markets were pressured by signs of easing petroleum demand in China, according to Reuters. Brent crude settled higher by 7 cents at $50.80 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate settled lower by 4 cents at $47.55 a barrel.

On the earnings front, notable companies in the region reporting results on Wednesday include Tencent, Cathay Pacific, Geely Auto and Westfield.

Ahead, investors are anticipating the release of the Federal Open Market Committee minutes during U.S. hours.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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