Asian stocks were mostly lower on Wednesday, ahead of the conclusion of the much-anticipated U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting.
The Fed will wrap up its meeting later Wednesday, with many investors expecting the central bank to start reducing the scale of its bond-buying program — a process that has become known as “tapering.”
The Nikkei was up 1.9% in Tokyo, responding well to a positive overnight lead from the U.S.
“Japan stock investors are encouraged by the relative resilience in both the dollar and in the U.S. indices’ apparent acceptance of at least a modest amount of Fed tapering,” said Kenichi Hirano, market advisor at Tachibana Securities.
Other markets mainly edged lower, with Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index off by 0.3%, and the Philippines’ PSE Composite declining 0.2%.
The U.S. dollar was slightly higher against the yen — last at ¥99.20 compared with ¥99.12 late Tuesday in New York. The Australian dollar dropped slightly to 93.43 U.S. cents.
The prospect of a smaller U.S. stimulus program sent gold 0.9% lower to $1,297.30 per ounce.
The direction of U.S. monetary policy has been in focus throughout the summer, with investors scrutinizing every major release of economic data for clues on how it might influence the Fed. In recent months, fears of a stimulus withdrawal has resulted in a number of selloffs in Asia, especially in Southeast Asian markets like Indonesia and the Philippines.
Some markets won’t get a chance to react to the Fed developments until next week, due to a number of public holidays that will take place across the region. South Korea is closed for the rest of the week, while Shanghai won’t be trading on Thursday and Friday.
The Shanghai Composite fell 0.2% on Wednesday.
A number of companies in Tokyo were reacting to corporate news. Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. jumped 4.7% following a TV Tokyo report that the company has received ¥180 billion to provide 676 cars to Long Island Rail Road in New York, citing the New York City Transit Authority.
Sharp Corp. rose 2.2%, adding to a 6.6% gain on Tuesday that was brought about by a Nikkei report that the company’s operating profit for the April-to-September period will be twice as much as previously forecast.
In Hong Kong, Chinese real estate developers fell on concerns Beijing could look to control property prices after official data showed growth in China’s housing prices picked up pace in August.
“Now that economic growth has rebounded and looks set to achieve the 7.5% target for 2013, we believe the government’s priority may shift toward containing financial risks and property prices,” said Nomura economist Zhiwei Zhang.
China Resources Land Ltd. fell 2.4% and Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. fell 0.9%.
Source : Marketwatch