Asian shares retreat as investors await crucial Fed decision in US

Asian stocks ended broadly lower on Wednesday as investors adopted a cautious approach ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement due later in the day.

Amid soaring inflation across the globe due to rising demand and supply bottlenecks, the US central bank is expected to announce its stimulus tapering timeline.

The Japanese stock market was closed in observance of Culture Day.

Chinese shares ended slightly lower as new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in the country spiked to a near three-month high and Premier Li Keqiang warned of economic downward pressure. Traders also looked ahead to a major Chinese Communist Party gathering set for Monday through November 11.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index slipped 7.09 points, or 0.20 per cent, to close at 3,498.54, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 74.92 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 25,024.75.

The services sector in China accelerated in October, the latest survey from Caixin showed earlier in the day, with a services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) score of 53.8. That was up from 53.4 in September as new business expanded at a stronger rate at the start of the fourth quarter. The composite index ticked up to 51.5 from 51.4 in September.

Australian markets rallied after Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said he has no plans to hike rates next year. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 68.40 points, or 0.93 per cent, to 7,392.70, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 66.40 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 7,713.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia shares rose 1.2 per cent after the lender said it would offer retail clients crypto services. ANZ jumped 2.3 per cent and NAB added 1.4 per cent.

Miners rebounded, with heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto ending up more than 1 per cent each. Smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group jumped 3.1 per cent. Energy stocks ended mixed, with Whitehaven Coal climbing as much as 3.8 per cent.

Seoul stocks tumbled, with the Kospi average ending down 37.78 points, or 1.25 per cent, at 2,975.71, as investors awaited clues on the timeline for tapering from this week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in the US.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics lost 1.54 per cent, No 2 chipmaker SK Hynix declined 1.9 per cent and internet portal operator Naver gave up 1.8 per cent.

New Zealand shares gave up early gains to end on a flat note amid bets that the Reserve Bank might raise rates more aggressively. A government report showed earlier in the day that the country’s unemployment rate fell to 3.4 per cent in the third quarter, the lowest rate since the fourth quarter of 2007.

AMP shares jumped 7.1 per cent after the financial services giant, which is dual listed in Australia and New Zealand, sold its remaining stake in its life insurance business.

US stocks rose modestly to hit new record highs overnight as earnings optimism prevailed and the two-day FOMC meeting got under way. The Dow and the S&P 500 rose around 0.4 per cent each, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3 per cent.

Source: GNA

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