Analysts said investors were taking a breather from a recent rally while waiting for a meeting on Monday of the US central bank's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

Focus will be on a clear timeline for the Fed to reel in its USD 85 billion-a-month stimulus programme, with some analysts saying it could come as early as September. "At the July 30-31 FOMC meeting, we expect an ambiguous signal from the Fed about the exact timing of tapering, causing markets to rethink whether September really is a done deal," analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.

"The majority of voters (in the committee) are likely still looking to move before year-end," they said. "However, given the weak GDP and inflation data, there probably is not a strong consensus about exactly when to pull the trigger."

(Agencies)

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