Asia markets end mostly higher as traders await cues from Yellen on rates – CNBC

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Markets in Asia ended mostly higher on the final trading day of the week as traders awaited direction from U.S. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen’s comments due later.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed up 62.38 points, or 0.37 percent, at 16,834.84, after data showed consumer prices in April fell, likely putting additional pressure on the Bank of Japan to ease at its next monetary policy meeting, set for June.

Before market open, Japan’s Statistics Bureau released the consumer price index (CPI) for April, which showed a 0.3 percent annual decline in core CPI, which excludes food prices but counts oil products. It was a tad better than the median Reuters poll estimate of a 0.4 percent fall.

Japan’s shares likely also received support after Reuters reported, citing local media reports, that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was considering delaying a planned sales tax hike for two years. That may assuage concerns that the sales tax hike could damp already weak economic growth. But after the G7 leaders’ summit in western Japan Friday, Abe told reporters a decision would be reached before July upper house elections, Reuters reported.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi closed up 12.11 points, or 0.62 percent, at 1,969.17. Down Under, the ASX 200 advanced 17.82 points, or 0.33 percent, to 5,405.91, with most sectors finishing in the green.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index reversed losses to close up 179.66 points, or 0.88 percent, to 20,576.77.

Chinese mainland markets closed modestly, with the Shanghai composite nearly flat, down 0.90 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,821.53, and the Shenzhen composite lower by 1.88 points, or 0.10 percent, to 1,807.03.

Asia markets end mostly higher as traders await cues from Yellen on rates – CNBC}