A woman walks past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. Asian shares were mostly lower Tuesday after a U.S. holiday and attention turned to the U.S. Federal Reserve. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Asian shares fall after US holiday, eyes on Fed notes

February 20, 2018 - 2:31 am

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower Tuesday after a U.S. holiday. Investors were awaiting the release later in the day of minutes from the latest meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1.0 percent to finish at 21,925.10. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was virtually unchanged, inching down to 5,940.90. South Korea's Kospi lost 1.1 percent to 2,415.12. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent at 31,034.04. Shares were mixed in Southeast Asia. Markets in mainland China were still closed for lunar new year holidays.

U.S. HOLIDAY: American markets were closed Monday for Presidents' Day.

CENTRAL BANKS: Minutes are expected later Tuesday from the latest Federal Reserve meeting. Investors were also watching remarks in Japanese parliament from Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda. Kuroda was reappointed recently for another five-year term in a show of confidence in his ultra-easy monetary policy.

THE QUOTE: "The Fed's sequence of interest rate normalization should be the markets' key focus this week and the primary drivers of near-term volatility," says Stephen Innes, head of trading at OANDA.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 74 cents to $62.29 per barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 13 cents at $65.54 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The euro slipped to $1.2379 from $1.2408. The dollar rose to 106.86 yen from 106.57 yen.

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