Fast Asia Open: All eyes on the BoJ

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Equity markets in Asia were poised to follow Wall Street’s advance on Friday as traders awaited the latest policy decision from Japan’s central bank.

Australia’s ASX 200 index was up 0.43 per cent in early trading, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 index tilted just slightly higher. Futures tip Hong Kong’s Hang Seng to slide 0.6 per cent.

In the US, the S&P 500 index closed up 0.6 per cent on Thursday with energy shares leading the way higher on the back of a rise in oil prices.

Traders had a slew of economic data to digest on Friday morning: Japan’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.3 per cent in December, just a bit higher than the 20-year low struck in October. Meanwhile, the inflation rate in the world’s third-biggest economy cooled, falling further away from the Bank of Japan’s target level.

Meanwhile, Japanese industrial production skidded 1.4 per cent on a month-over-month basis in December, a steeper fall than the 0.9 per cent economists forecast.

The BoJ is capping its two-day policy-setting meeting later on Friday. Economists expect the central bank to hold pat on any changes to its asset-purchase programme, however, it is forecast to ease further later this year as it looks to stoke inflation.

Here is a look at what other economic data to expect (all times HKT):

  • 08:30 – Taiwan Q4 GDP
  • 08:30 – Australia Q4 producer price inflation
  • 12:00 – Japan December vehicle production
  • 13.00 – Japan December housing starts
  • 13.00 – Japan December construction orders
  • 15:30 – Thailand December trade balance, imports and exports
  • The Bank of Japan’s policy decision should land some time after 11am
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