Asian stocks drift pending fresh news; oil takes a breather

SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stock markets drifted sideways on Tuesday as the price of oil took a breather from a three-day rally. Investors were digesting mixed reports on the health of the global economy and awaiting U.S. data later in the week.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent to 16,827.09 and South Korea's Kospi eked out a 0.1 percent gain to 2,052.15. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added less than 0.1 percent to 22,943.73 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.1 percent to 5,533.20. Stocks in mainland China and Taiwan were lower but markets in Indonesia and Singapore rose.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Trading across the region is also subdued. Currency markets are becalmed, and gold and oil are steady at higher levels," Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said in a daily commentary. "Naturally, energy and material stocks are finding support, but volumes indicate an overall lack of investor interest."

MIXED DATA: Global markets have seen small gains and losses as investors digest mixed reports on the health of the global economy. Japan's economy grew at a lower-than-expected 0.2 percent in the second quarter, which could push the Bank of Japan do more to stimulate the economy. Last week, data showed that Chinese factory output and other economic activity weakened in July. American consumers cut spending in July, but a survey showed that U.S. homebuilders are feeling more optimistic as prices and sales of new homes rise.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks closed at a record high Monday thanks to gains for chemical and machinery companies as well as energy companies that rose on the back of the recovery in the price of oil. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.3 percent to 18,636.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.3 percent to 2,190.15. The Nasdaq composite added 0.6 percent to 5,262.02.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 29 cents at $45.45 per barrel in New York. The contract jumped $1.25, or 2.8 percent, to $45.74 a barrel on Monday after Russia said it would work with Saudi Arabia to achieve market stability. Brent crude, a benchmark used to price international oils, lost 33 cents at $48.02 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 100.48 yen from 101.21 yen and the euro rose to $1.1193 from $1.1183.

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