BEIJING – Major Asian share indexes edged lower Tuesday in mostly muted trading after a retreat overnight on Wall Street.
Australia’s benchmark led the decline, falling more than 2% Tuesday ahead of a Reserve Bank of Australia decision that is expected to keep interest rates unchanged.
Newly released manufacturing data from Japan showed factory activity slightly improved, though still in contraction.
The Japanese government reported that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July stood at 2.9%, little changed from recent months.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.1% to 23,107.90 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong also fell 0.1%, to 25,171.86. South Korea's Kospi gained 1% to 2,349.32. The Shanghai Composite index was virtually flat, at 3,397.14.
The S&P/ASX 200 dropped 2.1% to 5,931.30 ahead of the RBA's policy announcement.
Leaders of Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party were negotiating over who will replace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after he steps down. The expectation is that his successor will continue the “Abenomics” policies he launched in early 2013, aimed at spurring growth through massive central bank stimulus and cheap credit.
While those policies have not yielded the stronger, sustained growth Abe promised for the world's third largest economy, until late last year Japan had mostly maintained what officials called a “modest recovery."