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Nikkei 225 near flat ahead of Bank of Japan rate decision in a mixed Asia-Pacific session

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific traded mixed Friday morning as investors looked ahead to the Bank of Japan’s rate decision and monetary policy statement expected later in the day.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 dipped 0.05% in early trade while the Topix index advanced slightly. South Korea’s Kospi traded near flat.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia fell, with the S&P/ASX 200 down about 0.69%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.06% lower.

The Bank of Japan is set to release its interest rate decision and monetary policy statement on Friday.

“The consensus view is that the Bank will extend its special funding programs to help businesses, while keeping its main policy rates and QE programmes unchanged,” Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note. “That said, there is a meaningful minority that expects an extension to the ETF purchase limit.”

Rising coronavirus cases in certain parts of North Asia may also weigh on investor sentiment.

Japan’s capital Tokyo on Thursday saw a record number of new infections, with the metropolitan government raising its alert for the strain on the medical system to the highest level, according to Kyodo News.

Over in South Korea, local news agency Yonhap reported Thursday that daily new coronavirus cases crossed the 1,000 level for the second day in a row.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 gained 0.6% to end its trading day at 3,722.48 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.8% to close at 12,764.75. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 148.83 points to close at 30,303.37.

Thursday’s moves on Wall Street saw the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hitting intraday and closing records, while the Dow posted its highest-ever closing level.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, last traded at 89.822 after weakening this week from levels above 90.4.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.13 per dollar, having seen levels above 103.8 against the greenback earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7617, after trading at levels around $0.763 earlier in the week.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • Japan: Bank of Japan releases interest rate decision, monetary policy statement

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