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Stocks waver in Asia ahead of BOJ statement

Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer

A man looks up by the day's chart of Tokyo's Nikkei 225, the regional heavyweight, that soared 636.67 points, or 4.94 percent, to 13,514.20 in front of a securities firm in Tokyo Monday, June 10, 2013. Asian markets rose Monday after U.S. jobs data helped allay concern the Fed might wind down its stimulus and Japan's prime minister promised new tax cuts. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO (AP) -- Stock markets were mostly lower in early Asian trading on Tuesday, as investors awaited the outcome of a policy meeting by Japan's central bank, and Chinese markets remained closed for a national holiday.

Japan's Nikkei stock index was almost unchanged, slipping marginally to 13,513.28 a day after the benchmark soared 4.9 percent following an upward revision of first quarter economic growth data for the world's No. 3 economy.

The Bank of Japan issued a statement, just before the market's midday break, that called for no major policy changes but reiterated its expectation for a moderate recovery in coming months, noting an improvement in exports and resilient demand in Japan.

An overnight decline on Wall Street further weighed on sentiment, while investors in Hong Kong were watching for the reopening of China's markets on Thursday, following the Dragon Boat festival.

"During the holiday the data from China was not so good. It was below market expectations, so investors are waiting," said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 0.9 percent at 21,412.15, while Korea's KOSPI slipped 1.1 percent to 1,911.90. Shares were lower in Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore but rose in Australia.

Elsewhere, a decision by the Standard & Poor's ratings agency to raise its outlook Monday for its credit rating on the U.S. government's long-term debt did little to boost spirits, as the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.06 percent, or 9.53 points to 15,238.59. The broader S&P 500 index was down 0.03 percent at 1,642.81

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares edge down 0.2 percent to 6,400.45 while Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent to 8.307.69. The CAC-40 in France fell 0.2 percent to 3,864.36.

Over recent weeks, investors have grown fearful that the Federal Reserve will reduce the amount of financial assets it buys in the markets — so-called tapering.

The prospect of unchanged Fed policy in the near-term, which became more likely last week following the release of strong job numbers, has weighed on the dollar. The euro rose to $1.3274 from $1.3261 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 98.27 yen from 98.70 yen.

Oil prices held steady, with the benchmark rate up 1 cent at $95.78 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 26 cents to close at $95.77 per barrel on the Nymex on Monday.