Asian stock markets were mostly lower Tuesday as investors awaited a batch of earnings from major U.S. companies that could yield clues about the pace of economic recovery.
The lackluster trade came after Wall Street was closed for a holiday Monday and European shares advanced as investors focused on possible corporate mergers. Oil prices hovered above $78 a barrel, while the dollar slipped against the yen and the euro.
This week brings another round of quarterly results from bellwethers like Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co., both of which are seeking to bolster their finances after being bailed out with tens of billions in taxpayer money during the crisis. Starbucks Corp. will also release results. In each case, investors will be paying close attention to what company results indicate about the state of consumer demand.
A number of markets fluctuated in Asia.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 stock average slipped 36.30 points, or 0.3 percent, to 10,818.78 amid expectations Japan Airlines would file for bankruptcy protection Tuesday, ending months-long speculation about its fate and launching a massive overhaul to shed the fat and inefficiency that hobbled Asia’s biggest airline.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 36.52 points, or 0.2 percent, to 21,422.05. Markets in Taiwan and Singapore also lost ground but South Korea’s market was up 3.43 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,715.21.
China’s market also bucked the trend, with Shanghai’s main index rising 0.3 percent to 3,246.87.
Overnight in Europe, benchmarks in Britain and Germany added 0.7 percent, while France’s key index gained 0.6 percent.
Oil prices were higher in Asia, with benchmark crude for February delivery adding 36 cents to $78.36 a barrel.
In currencies, the dollar slipped to 90.49 yen from 90.73 yen. The euro traded higher at $1.4394 from $1.4380.