Asian markets slump as traders take profits, eye commodities' spike


Asian markets suffered a downturn Tuesday after racking up a series of gains as profit-takers stepped in, while traders were also spooked by a surge in commodity prices.

Eyes are also on the release of minutes from the federal Reserve's May policy decision, hoping for some idea about officials' thinking as they considered three straight forecast-beating reads on inflation.

That, however, came before figures last week indicated price rises were easing, stoking fresh hopes the central bank could cut interest rates a couple of times this year, with some looking at July or November as possibilities for a first.

Still, a number of Fed decision-makers have warned they are not willing to call for a reduction until they are sure higher borrowing costs are doing their job and that inflation is truly under control.

After a mildly positive day in New York, where the Nasdaq hit a record high and the Dow ended down from Friday's record, Asian investors were cautious as they eyed rising commodity prices.

Copper, a key gauge of the state of the economy owing to its widespread use, hit a record above $11,400 Monday, while gold was also hanging just short of its own peak touched on the same day. Silver was around an 11-year high.

"Copper is now on a month-old rally boosted by tight supply with smelters in China decreasing output," said National Australian Bank's Rodrigo Catril.

"But more recently (the) BHP-Anglo bid has increased attention on the demand prospect from fast-growing sectors including EVs, renewable energy and artificial intelligence," he added, referring to mining giant BHP's buyout offer of rival Anglo America.

"A short squeeze and prospect of Fed easing later this year have also helped the rally."

Hong Kong led losses, shedding around two percent after soaring around 30 percent from its January low, while Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Wellington, and Manila were also in the red.

Tokyo and Jakarta eked out gains.

Nvidia is the last of the major US tech giants due to release its earnings on Wednesday, with analysts saying the reading will be closely watched as its high-end processors have been prized by artificial intelligence companies.

"For the market to keep momentum this week, it may come down to just one stock -- Nvidia," Freedom Capital Markets' Jay Woods said. "It sure feels like the hype for this earnings event will be the talk of trading desks and financial media all week."

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 39,135.91 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 2.0 percent at 19,249.15

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,156.21

Dollar/yen: UP at 156.50 yen from 156.29 yen on Friday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0852 from $1.0861

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2700 from $1.2707

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.44 from 85.46 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.2 percent at $79.62 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: DOWN 0.4 percent at $83.36 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 39,806.77 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 8,424.20 (close)



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