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Asian markets mixed before ECB meeting

Thu July 5, 2012 8:11pm

Asian markets were mixed in subdued trade as investors took to the sidelines following recent gains and waited for a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting amid expectations of an interest rate cut.

WITH no lead from the US which had been closed for a holiday, investors waited on Thursday for the ECB meeting later in the day, as well as for an expected announcement of $US78 billion ($A76.15 billion) in fresh stimulus cash from the Bank of England.

The euro held steady against the dollar in cautious trade.

Tokyo closed 0.27 per cent, or 24.37 points, lower at 9,079.80, and Seoul was flat, rising 0.06 per cent, or 1.04 points, to close at 1,875.49.

Hong Kong closed 0.50 per cent, or 99.38 points, higher at 19,809.13, but Shanghai slipped 1.17 per cent, or 25.97 points, to end at 2,201.35 amid continued concerns about China's slowing economic growth.

Sydney was flat, giving up 0.07 per cent, or 3.0 points, to close at 4,169.2.

Herald van der Linde, head of equity strategy Asia-Pacific at HSBC in Hong Kong, told Dow Jones Newswires markets were "taking a bit of a breather" after gains on last week's EU summit deal to help the eurozone.

He added the ECB's expected rate cut was not affecting regional bourses as "the market has already priced in a cut".

Investors were also holding back ahead of key jobs data in the US to be released on Friday, betting the figures will be poor and may push the US Federal Reserve towards a new round of quantitative easing, dealers said.

The ECB is widely expected to trim eurozone borrowing costs later on Thursday by a quarter of a percentage point to a new record low of 0.75 per cent, central bank watchers predicted.

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