Asian shares broadly lower, Fed meeting in focus
HONG KONG—Asian markets mostly fell on Wednesday in the final hours before investors learn more about the US Federal Reserve’s plans for its massive stimulus program.
Traders have remained cautious ahead of the central bank meeting, although most economists are confident the Fed will indicate that the $85-billion-a-month bond-buying will stay in place for the time being.
Tokyo closed down 1.45 percent on profit-taking after the previous day’s gains. The Nikkei gave up 201.50 points to 13,668.32.
Seoul lost 0.16 percent, or 3.02 points, to end at 1,914.03. Sydney closed flat, edging up 4.8 points to 5,052.
Shanghai rose 0.19 percent, or 3.74 points, to 1,993.80, while Hong Kong fell 0.32 percent, or 70.30 points, to 21,883.66.
Concerns about the future of the so-called quantitative easing programme have led to fluctuations in global markets in recent months.
But Fed chief Ben Bernanke has reiterated the bank’s intention only to wind down the scheme when the US economy can stand on its own two feet.
The greenback fetched 97.85 yen, compared with 98.02 yen in New York Tuesday.
The euro fetched $1.3261 and 129.75 yen, against $1.3264 and 130.02 yen.
The single currency has enjoyed some measure of support over the past few weeks—it hit a one-month high of $1.3302 at one point in New York Tuesday—amid signs the eurozone economies are finally picking up and could even move out of recession.
Asian equities were given a soft lead from Wall Street Tuesday, where the Dow and S&P 500 were flat and the Nasdaq edged up 0.48 percent.
Weaker-than-forecast US consumer sentiment figures offset an upbeat report on home prices.
On oil markets New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in September, was up 55 cents at $103.63 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for September fell 17 cents to $106.74.
Gold cost $1,332.27 per ounce at 1040 GMT, compared with $1,323.50 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
– Mumbai ended flat, down 0.01 percent, or 2.64 points, to 19,345.70.
India’s mobile phone firm Reliance Communications rose 10.14 percent to 139.6 rupees while private Essar Oil fell 9.96 percent to 51.55 rupees.
– Bangkok lost 0.86 percent, or 12.30 points, to 1,423.14.
Oil firm PTT Global Chemical dropped 5.71 percent to 66.00 baht, while Thai Airways International jumped 5.58 percent to 22.70 baht.
– Singapore closed down 0.72 percent, or 23.52 points, at 3,221.93 Property developer Capitaland was down 0.62 percent to Sg$3.23 and DBS Bank decreased 0.54 percent at Sg$16.70.
– Jakarta closed higher 0.04 percent, or 1.89 points, at 4,610.38.
Car maker Astra International rose 0.78 percent to 6,500 rupiah, while telecommunication and network provider Telekomunikasi Indonesia gained 1.28 percent to 11,900 rupiah.
– Kuala Lumpur slumped 1.27 percent, or 22.46 points, to close at 1,772.62.
Budget airline AirAsia lost 0.9 percent to 3.16 ringgit, while financial firm CIMB Group Holdings fell 3.4 percent to 7.87. DiGi.com gained 0.7 percent to 4.65 ringgit.
– Taipei slipped 0.68 percent, or 55.61 points, to 8,107.94.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 0.49 percent higher at Tw$102.5, but smartphone maker HTC was 7.0-percent limit-down after it warned that it may swing to a loss in the third quarter.
– Manila closed 1.32 percent lower, shedding 88.88 points to 6,639.12.
Alliance Global Group fell to 3.14 percent to 26.25 pesos and Philippine Long Distance Telephone lost 0.98 percent to 3,020 pesos.
– Wellington fell 0.28 percent, or 12.60 points, to 4,537.99.
Mainfreight was down 2.45 percent at NZ$10.75, Fletcher Building shed 0.37 percent to NZ$8.13 and Air New Zealand was steady on NZ$1.45.—Danny McCord