Asian stocks fall ahead of Fed meeting

Big 5

Asian stocks mostly traded lower on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of a closely watched meeting by the U.S. Federal Reserve set to kick off later in the day stateside.

Mainland Chinese shares ended the morning session mostly lower, with the Shanghai composite slipping 0.22 percent and the Shenzhen component declining 0.106 percent. The Shenzhen composite was largely flat.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index slipped 0.25 percent as shares Chinese tech behemoth Tencent declined 0.49 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was 0.18 percent lower as shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing, the company behind the Uniqlo chain of apparel stores, slipped 0.2 percent. The Topix index also declined 0.2 percent.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi shed 0.16 percent as shares of chipmaker SK Hynix dropped 1.03 percent.

Amid the day’s declines, one investor said he was “a bit cautious right now.”

“It appears that … risk assets have moved ahead of fundamentals,” Daryl Liew, head of portfolio management at REYL Singapore, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Tuesday. “If you look at … the sharp run up in equity markets year to date, it’s come against a backdrop of actually slowing economic numbers.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s ASX 200 was largely flat.

On Tuesday, the release of March policy meeting minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia showed it noted that trade tensions “remained a continued source of uncertainty for the global outlook.”

“The delay in tariff increases previously scheduled for 1 March had generated some optimism that tensions could ease. However, the increases in tariffs implemented in 2018 had continued to weigh on trade between the United States and China, and there had been spillover effects on some other economies,” the minutes said.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, according to the latest data from its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7102, after touching a two-week high above $0.711 yesterday, when it was boosted by a weaker dollar and a rise in iron ore prices, among other factors.

Fed meeting on Tuesday

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average capped a four-session winning streak as it closed 65.23 points higher at 25,914.10. The S&P 500 finished its trading day 0.4 percent higher at 2,832.94, while the Nasdaq Composite also added 0.3 percent to close at 7,714.48.

The moves came ahead of a two-day monetary policy meeting by the Fed, set to begin on Tuesday. Market expectations for a rate hike are at zero, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool. However, investors will look for clues about the central bank’s economic outlook. The Fed had signaled it will be “patient” in raising rates at its previous meeting this year.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, stood at 96.408 after touching highs around 96.6 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 111.24 against the dollar after seeing lows around 111.6 in the previous session.

Oil prices continued rising this week, supported by the prospect of prolonged OPEC-led supply curbs. Prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract rising 0.15 percent to $67.64 per barrel and U.S. crude futures flat at $59.09 per barrel.

Source: CNBC