Asian markets fall ahead of Fed meeting resultBy Peter Hutchison
HONG KONG—Asian markets were generally down Wednesday as nervous investors awaited the outcome of a key US Federal Reserve meeting amid low expectations of any new easing measures.
The Asian falls were also spurred by European stock markets sliding into the red on Tuesday as traders fretted about whether the European Central Bank (ECB) would announce decisive monetary policies later this week.
Tokyo stocks fell 0.61 percent, or 53.21 points to 8,641.85, Seoul slipped 0.1 percent, or 2.06 points, to 1,879.93, and Sydney was down 0.15 percent, or 6.4 points, at 4262.8.
But Hong Kong rose 0.12 percent, or 23.57 points, to 19,820.38 while Shanghai shares were up 0.94 percent, or 19.73 points, to 2,123.36 despite weak Chinese manufacturing data for July.
Analysts said Premier Wen Jiabao’s comments that more “fine-tuning” measures are planned to ensure growth lifted market confidence.
Chinese state media on Tuesday cited Wen as saying the country must make stabilizing economic growth its priority in the face of continued downward pressure, spurring hopes Beijing may introduce further stimulus measures.
The remarks helped investors shrug off a contraction in Chinese manufacturing as figures released Wednesday showed the government’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) slipped to 50.1 last month from 50.2 in June.
British banking giant HSBC posted a reading of 49.3 in July compared to 48.2 in the previous month.
Overall market sentiment was down amid little hope of a fresh stimulus announcement by the US Federal Reserve at the end of a two-day monetary policy meeting.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement is expected Wednesday at 1815 GMT.
Dick Green at Briefing.com noted that most economists expect the FOMC to hold off on any additional easing measures until at least September.
Investors are also keeping an eye on Europe where central banks are expected to announce substantial stimulus measures later this week.
On Thursday, the ECB and the Bank of England unveil their latest monetary policy decisions, as the region grapples with the eurozone debt crisis.
Currency rates were moving only narrowly in afternoon Asian trade.
The euro bought $1.2291 and 95.91 yen in Tokyo trade, compared with $1.2302 and 96.12 yen in New York late Tuesday. The dollar was at 78.03 yen against 78.13 yen.
On oil markets, New York’s main contract light sweet crude for delivery in September fell 23 cents to $87.83 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for the same month shed 48 cents to $104.44.
Gold was at $1,613.90 at 1135 GMT, from $1,625.30 on Tuesday.
In other markets:
– Taipei was down 0.03 percent, or 2.53 points, to 7,267.96.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 1.23 percent lower at Tw$80.0 while Hon Hai Precision added 0.24 percent to Tw$84.8.
– Wellington was down 0.41 percent, or 14.36 points, to 3530.65.
Fletcher Building fell 0.82 percent to NZ$6.06 while Telecom Corporation was down 0.19 percent to NZ$2.65.
– Jakarta was down 0.29 percent, or 11.87 points, to 4,130.46.
Bank Central Asia fell 0.6 percent to 7,950 rupiah and Bank Rakyat Indonesia lost 0.7 percent to 6,950 rupiah.
– Kuala Lumpur closed flat, adding 0.05 percent, or 0.87 points, to finish at 1,632.47.
Telekom Malaysia inched up 1.06 percent to 5.71 ringgit, while Malayan Banking increased 0.34 percent to 8.79 ringgit.
– Singapore gained 0.48 percent, or 14.68 points, to 3,051.08.
Singapore Airlines gained 1.89 percent to Sg$10.80 and CapitaLand added 1.33 percent to Sg$3.04.
– Manila fell 0.17 percent, or 8.94 points, to 5,298.72.
Ayala Land rose 2.97 percent to 22.50 pesos while its parent company Ayala Corporation fell 2.34 percent to 425 pesos.
– Mumbai edged up 0.12 percent, or 21.20 points, to 17,257.38.
Engineering giant Bharat Heavy Electricals rose 2.13 percent to 220.3 rupees while drug maker Cipla rose 4.40 percent to 353.45 rupees.
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