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Japan’s Nikkei rises modestly after Bank of Japan keeps rates on hold; Asia markets mixed

SINGAPORE — Shares in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed on Thursday as investors look ahead to the Bank of Japan rate decision.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.15% in early trade.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.17% and the Kosdaq advanced 0.32%.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan declined 0.14% while the Topix index lost 0.25%.

The Bank of Japan is expected to keep rates at ultra-low levels Thursday, according to a Reuters poll.

Japan’s yen changed hands at 138.46 per dollar ahead of the decision.

The currency has weakened considerably in recent months as Japan’s easy monetary policy diverges from that of other countries.

Central banks in the region and the rest of the world have raised interest rates in a bid to keep inflation under control. The European Central Bank is expected to hike rates later Thursday.

Japan’s latest consumer price index report showed that prices rose 2.1% from a year before, just above the central bank’s target.

In company news, Hyundai Motor will be reporting its second-quarter results Thursday.

Overnight in the U.S., major averages reached their highest points since early June.

The Nasdaq Composite popped 1.58% to 11,897.65, and the S&P 500 gained 0.59% to 3,959.90. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 47.79 points, or 0.15%, to 31,874.84 after struggling for direction in the session.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 107.069, weaker than last week’s levels.

The Australian dollar was at $0.6882, weakening slightly after jumping earlier in the week.

Oil futures fell in Asia trade. U.S. crude slipped 0.32% to $99.56 per barrel, while Brent crude dropped 0.23% to $106.67 per barrel.

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