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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks edge higher ahead of key US economic data

Galaxy Entertainment leads gains in Hong Kong-listed casino operators

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan advanced Tuesday, with investors eyeing U.S. economic data to assess the quantum of potential Federal Reserve monetary policy easing later this month.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index ended 0.3% higher at 1,329.31.

Record-high U.S. equities buoyed investor sentiment. The S&P 500 Index advanced for the fifth day yesterday amid expectations that a dovish Fed will be supportive of risk assets. The U.S. central bank is widely expected to ease interest rates at the July 30-31 meeting, possibly by half a percentage points.

Whether the Fed cuts the rates by 25 basis points or 50 basis points, it will be down to what the policymakers make of the outlook of the U.S. economy. Last week, in a testimony to U.S. lawmakers, Powell has said that U.S. economic outlook was being marred by trade worries and weakness in the global economy.

Fed officials, later Tuesday, will get insight on how the U.S. consumer demand is holding up amid a clouded economic outlook. Economists polled by Reuters expect U.S. retail sales growth to have slowed to 0.1% month-on-month in June from 0.5% in the prior month. Closely watched core retail sales are pegged to have grown by 0.3%.

Among movers on the A300 on Tuesday, Galaxy Entertainment Group led a broad rally in Hong Kong-listed casino operators, adding 2.9% after brokerage Stanford C. Bernstein said that channel checks indicated that Macau gross gaming revenue was at 11.5 billion Macanese patacas ($1.43 billion) in the first two weeks of July, which brought the month-to-date rate to 821 million Macanese patacas. The month-to-date average was 3% higher than compared with June, it added.

Air China ended unchanged after the airline reported that passengers carried in June rose 2.7% on-year to 9.19 million. China Southern Airlines added 2.8% following a 9.3% increase and China Eastern Airlines rose 1.8% on the back of an 8.4% growth in passenger traffic.

China Life Insurance climbed 0.5%. The insurer said that January-June accumulated premium income was up 5% on-year.

CRRC added 0.3%. The rail transit equipment supplier said late Monday it has entered into contracts totaling 47.5 billion yuan ($6.9 billion) in the March-July period.

Singapore Airlines closed 0.3% higher after saying that total number of passengers carried in June increased 8%.

Technology heavyweights on the A300 advanced after the Nasdaq Composite reached record highs. Samsung Electronics rose 0.9%, Tencent Holdings added 0.5%, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing climbed 0.6%. TSMC reports June quarter earnings on Thursday.

--Nimesh Vora

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