Tuesday, 23 May 2017 | 19:30 WIB

Asia Markets Trade Mixed, Nikkei Plunges on Stronger Yen

Asian equities traded mixed on Tuesday morning, taking its cue from Wall Street's mixed close (Bloomberg)

SINGAPORE, NETRALNEWS.COM - Asian equities traded mixed on Tuesday morning, taking its cue from Wall Street's mixed close.  The ASX 200 slipped 0.13 percent, dragged by its financials sub-index, which was down 0.37 percent.

Engineering and construction firm Downer EDI is looking to launch a A$1.27 billion ($981 million) takeover bid for cleaning and catering company Spotless Group at A$1.15 per share. Downer EDI shares were untraded at A$7.42 per share, and Spotless Group rallied 46.6 percent to A$1.0625.

The Japanese benchmark dropped 0.72 percent within the first ten minutes of trading, as the yen remained at 112. 48, weaker than last week's range between 112.53 to 114.9. In South Korea, the Kospi was in the green, up 0.27 percent.

U.S. equities closed mixed on Monday, as investors turned their focus on Federal Reserve officials. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.04 percent to close at 20,905.86, S&P 500 slipped 0.2 percent to 2,373.47 and the Nasdaq composite was up just 0.01 percent to 5,901.53.

The U.S. central bank raised interest rates by 25 basis points last week for the first time this year, but the "dot plot" that shows each member's expectations for where rates will be in coming years changed little from the last meeting.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said the central bank will likely wait until June to decide on the next rate hike. Ahead on Tuesday, Fed officials will be speaking from around the world.

They include New York Fed President William Dudley, who speaks at 6:35 a.m. in London, while Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren speaks in Bali, Indonesia. Kansas City Fed President Esther George speaks on the economy at noon and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester speaks at 6 p.m. ET on the outlook and communications.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies traded at 100.41. Against the dollar, the yen remained stronger against the greenback at 112.48 while the Australian dollar traded at $0.7725.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger article 50 on March 29, her spokesperson said on Monday. This will begin the two-year countdown of negotiations leading to Britain leaving the European Union. During Asian trade on Tuesday, the pound was steady and fetched $1.2369 by 8:05 am HK/SIN.

"The announcement to trigger article 50 was never likely to be the straw that broke the camel's back for Sterling, as the milestone has had nine months of airtime," said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at ThinkMarkets, in a Tuesday note.

"The performance of GBP now comes down to the perception of how well the UK government are doing in the process." On the energy front, oil prices slipped as traders worry about growing U.S. crude stockpiles and output. Brent crude settled down 14 cents to $51.62 a barrel and U.S. crude settled down 56 cents to $48.22.