China July trade data, Australia banks in focus

The marginal losses eked out by major indexes Tuesday followed what market watchers characterized as a relatively lackluster session on Monday.

ANZ Research attributed the slow session to minimal market moves, a lack of major data releases and the European summer holiday season.

“It’s been perhaps one of the quietest trading sessions for some time, and it’s incredibly difficult to find any market that has seen or resembled any kind of genuine change on the session,” IG Chief Market Strategist Chris Weston said about the Monday session in a Tuesday note.

On the earnings front, Japan’s SoftBank said Monday that quarterly operating profits increased 50 percent on year to 479.2 billion yen ($4.33 billion). That followed the company’s inclusion of Vision Fund, a private equity fund, as a segment in its business. SoftBank stock was down 0.45 percent.

In other corporate news, fallout from a banking scandal Down Under remained in the spotlight, with Reuters reporting Tuesday that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia would be scrapping the bonus of its CEO. CBA earlier blamed a software blunder for a series of transactions that reportedly breached anti-money laundering law, Reuters said. CBA shares were up 0.5 percent after taking a tumble late last week.

Shares of Samsung Electronics shrugged off headlines that Samsung Group Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee faced charges linked to the bribery of South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye. A 12-year jail term is being pursued by prosecutors and the South Korean court is expected to make its ruling on Aug. 25, Reuters said Monday. Samsung Electronics stock rose 1.35 percent early in the session, in line with the broader move higher in South Korean tech stocks.

Other market movers included Korea Electric Power Corporation, which saw its stock fall 1.59 percent in early trade. The move in KEPCO shares came after the utilities firm announced Monday that second-quarter net profits had fallen close to 80 percent, according to Yonhap.

Asian corporates expected to report earnings during the day include Hong Kong’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation.

Meanwhile, the dollar index trended lower to stand at 93.401, but remained slightly above a low of 93.302 seen overnight. The index tracks the dollar against a basket of rival currencies. The greenback was mostly flat against the Japanese currency, with the dollar fetching 110.75 yen at 8:02 a.m. HK/SIN.

With the overnight “data void” putting a damper on forex markets, traders are likely focusing on the U.S. consumer price index print due Friday before making major moves, OANDA senior trader Stephen Innes said.

“Given the enormity of inflation metrics in the Fed’s rates outlook, I suspect traders will be reluctant to commit big views prior to the event (this Friday) and even more so given August’s sparse liquidity conditions,” Innes added.

Oil prices extended losses after slipping in the previous session due to supply concerns. Reuters reported Monday that production from Libya’s biggest oil field had recovered after it faced disruptions caused by protesters. Brent crude declined 0.21 percent to trade at $52.26 a barrel and U.S. crude slid 0.1 percent to trade at $49.34 a barrel.

The Tuesday trading session is fairly data light, with investors expected to watch for China export and import numbers due later in the day (all times in HK/SIN):

  • After 10:00 a.m.: China July trade data
  • 4:00 p.m.: Taiwan July exports

Stateside, major indexes closed higher in the last session as the Dow Jones industrial average recorded its 9th straight record close. The index rose 0.12 percent, or 25.61 points, to close at 22,118.42.

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