Asian Pacific Stocks Mixed Ahead of U.S Fed Meeting
Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Wednesday; however, already-high valuations ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy decision capped gains.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose by 0.21% to close at 29,053.97, while the Topix index gained a profit of 0.29% to finish its trading day at 1,909.06.
Japan’s retail sales rose 5.2% in March as compared with a year ago, according to government data. That was higher than a median market forecast for a 4.7% gain.
The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia advanced 0.44% to end the trading day at 7,064.70. Australia’s consumer price index rose 0.6% in the first quarter, according to data released by the country’s Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday. That was lower than expectations in a Reuters poll for a 0.9% increase from the previous quarter.
Mainland Chinese stocks closed higher as the Shanghai composite advanced 0.42% to 3,457.07 while the Shenzhen component gained 0.942% to 14,398.38.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.45% to close at 29,071.34. Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba jumped 2.3% on Wednesday despite a Wall Street Journal report that China investigates how its founder Jack Ma managed to get speedy approvals for Alibaba-affiliate Ant Group’s stock listing last year.
South Korea’s Kospi slipped 1.06% on the day to 3,181.47.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan stood little changed.
Bonds fell as the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield climbed back above 1.6% ahead of the Fed handing down its April policy decision later in the day.
Some investors were optimistic that the central bank would take a more positive tone, even as they expect no major changes to policy itself.
“We expect the Fed’s tone on the economy to be more positive than at the March meeting, reflecting the ongoing pickup in the data, but we don’t expect any substantive new signal yet on tapering,” TD Securities Analysts
U.S. President Joe Biden is also expected to give an address in front of a joint session of Congress later in the day, his first as president. Investors will be monitoring the address for further clues on infrastructure and stimulus spending.
Asian Markets Currencies and oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 91.004 after seeing levels below 90.9 earlier in the trading week.
The Japanese yen traded at 108.91 per dollar, having weakened notably from levels below 108 against the greenback seen earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7745 after yesterday’s decline from around $0.78.
Oil prices were lower n the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures near flat at $66.40 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also hovering near the flatline at $62.97 per barrel.