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Asian Markets Mixed Ahead of U.S. Fed rate decision; Japan’s Nissan Motor plunges

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed in Wednesday afternoon trade as investors await the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision.

Mainland Chinese stocks led gains regionally, with the Shanghai composite up 1.05% while the Shenzhen component jumped 1.854%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index edged 0.12% higher.

In South Korea, the Kospi was 0.2% higher in afternoon trade. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia dipped fractionally.

Japanese stocks lagged their peers in the region’s major markets, with the Nikkei 225 and Topix indexes declining 1.02% each.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index hovered above the flatline.

Investor focus will likely be on the upcoming rate decision by the Fed, expected to be out sometime on Wednesday stateside.

“The (Federal Open Market Committee) will be the firm focus of market participants over the next 24 hours,” Kim Mundy, an economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note.

“We expect that the FOMC will remain dovish and acknowledge that the US economic outlook has deteriorated since the 11 June meeting,” Mundy said. “Since 11 June, there have been more than 2 million new coronavirus cases in the US.  This has slowed re‑opening efforts in some US states and as a result, increased the uncertainty around the pace of the US economic recovery.”

In corporate developments, shares of Japanese automaker Nissan Motor plummeted nearly 10% after the company on Tuesday forecast a 470 billion yen loss for the fiscal year 2020. Canon also saw its stock plunging more than 13%, with the moves coming after the company reported its first ever quarterly loss, according to Reuters.

Australia’s Consumer Price Index falls

On the economic data front, Australia’s Consumer Price Index fell 1.9% in the June 2020 quarter, according to data released by the country’s Bureau of Statistics (ABS). ABS Chief Economist Bruce Hockman said in a media release: “This was the largest quarterly fall in the 72 year history of the CPI.”

The ABS attributed the decline in the June quarter to factors such as free child care and a “significant fall” in the price of automotive fuel.

Currencies & Oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.681 — off an earlier high of 93.799.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.04 per dollar after strengthening from levels around 105.60 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7164 following its rise from levels around $0.71 early in the trading week.

Oil prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up around 0.1% to $43.27 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dipped fractionally to $41.02 per barrel.