Asia stocks mixed ahead of BOJ meeting

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Monday, with traders widely expecting the Bank of Japan to announce new measures to help the country break out of its deflationary slump.

The central bank's monetary policy committee meets Tuesday and is expected to grapple yet again with the country's longstanding economic doldrums.

"The faster-than-expected deterioration in the economy requires further policy support from the central bank," analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in a market commentary. "Market expectations are building that the BOJ will ease policy again."

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose marginally to 8,937.796, giving up some morning gains. South Korea's Kospi reversed course and fell 0.2 percent to 1,888.62. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 4,485. Benchmarks in the Philippines and India rose while Singapore fell. Mainland Chinese shares were mixed.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 21,499.09, with property shares leading the way down in the wake of an announcement by the government to tamp down prices by imposing a 15 percent tax on nonresident buyers of Hong Kong properties.

"I think they blame the nonresident buyers, mainly from China's mainland, for driving up the prices of residential properties in Hong Kong," said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong. "But any kind of control is not good. You will distort the market. The key is to increase the supply."

The tax will also apply to companies to close a loophole that has seen companies buying up residences and then transferring them to nonresidents.

Hong Kong-listed Henderson Land Development Co. plummeted 8.1 percent and Sino Land Co. slid 6.3 percent.

Japanese car maker Honda Motor Corp. fell 4.2 percent after lowering its forecasts for fiscal year 2013 due to a recent sales drop in China sparked by a territorial dispute.

On Wall Street on Friday, stocks finished mixed after investors found little to like in weak corporate earnings reports and news of only tepid growth in the U.S. economy in the third quarter.

The government estimated that the U.S. economy expanded at a 2 percent annual rate from July through September. That was better than the previous quarter but not strong enough to bring down the unemployment rate.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.03 percent to close at 13,107.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.07 percent, to 1,411.94. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.06 percent to 2,987.95.

Benchmark oil for December delivery was down 37 cents to $85.91 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 23 cents to finish at $86.28 in New York on Friday.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 79.68 yen from 79.66 yen late Friday in New York. The euro fell to $1.2928 from $1.2932.

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