- Asian stock markets were mixed on Wednesday, with markets in Japan ending lower after the Bank of Japan refrained from expanding stimulus in a widely expected decision.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng inched up 0.2%, China’s Shanghai Composite advanced 0.56%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.08% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended down 0.24%.

Asia was given a negative lead from Wall Street, where markets ended lower as retailers sold off after disappointing earnings from Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS).

In Tokyo, the Nikkei ended lower after the BOJ stuck with targeting an annual increase in the monetary base of between ¥60-and-¥70 trillion.

Data released earlier showed that Japan''s April trade balance posted a deficit of ¥808.9 billion, compared to a forecast of a deficit of ¥640.0 billion. Exports rose 5.1% in April, compared to an expectation of a 4.8% gain.

The yen strengthened against the dollar, trading at ¥100.89 from ¥101.25 in the previous session (USD/JPY).

Meanwhile, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index swung between small gains and losses, while the Australian dollar slumped to a three-week low against the greenback.

The Aussie (AUD/USD) weakened to 92.15 U.S. cents from 92.31 in the prior session.

Losses in the mining sector weighed on the benchmark index. BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) declined 0.75% and 1.1%, while Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) and Atlas Iron (ASX:AGO) retreated 2.4% and 2.7% respectively.

Elsewhere, shares in mainland China and Hong Kong edged higher, but gains were limited amid ongoing concerns over the outlook for growth in China.

Index heavyweight Lenovo (HK:0992) tacked on 2.6% ahead of the release of earnings later in the day.

On the downside, HSBC Holdings (HK:0005) fell 1.2% as the stock trades without rights to its latest dividend.

Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a lower open. The Euro Stoxx 50 futures pointed to a loss of 0.25%, France’s CAC 40 declined 0.25%, London’s FTSE 100 indicated a drop of 0.15%, while Germany''s DAX pointed to a loss of 0.3% at the open.

Across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow pointed to a gain of 0.01%, the S&P 500 inched down 0.03%, while the Nasdaq 100 indicated a rise of 0.04%.

Market players looked ahead to the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve''s latest monetary policy meeting later in the day for insight on the central bank''s view of the economy.

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