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Asia: Stock futures signal losses as oil falls, yen strengthens

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[HONG KONG] Asian stock index futures pointed to declines in regional equities as crude oil dropped for the first time in a week and the yen strengthened, after tumbling by the most since 2014 on Friday.

Futures on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 0.3 per cent as of 8:42 am in Tokyo, after the benchmark ended last week at the highest since early February.

Contracts on Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index were 0.2 per cent lower, while those on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 0.1 per cent. Crude fell 0.5 per cent to US$43.53 a barrel in New York, retreating from a five-month high.

The yen gained 0.2 per cent versus the greenback and the British pound climbed 0.3 per cent.

Financial markets in Australia and New Zealand are closed for the Anzac Day holiday.

Central bank policy meetings in Japan and the US are at the forefront of investor attention this week, with most economists predicting additional monetary easing will be announced in the Asian nation on Thursday.

While the Federal Reserve is expected to refrain from raising interest rates on Wednesday, investors will be on the watch for any shifts in its guidance on the likely trajectory of increases.

Thailand will report March trade data on Monday, while Singapore has inflation figures due. The US will release details of new home sales and quarterly earnings are expected from companies including Halliburton Co and Royal Philips NV.

Saudi Arabia is scheduled to unveil a comprehensive plan to diversify its economy and shore up government finances after a slump in oil prices over the last two years.

BLOOMBERG