Asian shares slip as investors await Fed meeting for rate clues

Andrew Cummings
September 21, 2017

Broader market sentiment was weak in Asia with participants waiting for clues on the pace of interest rate hikes in the United States after the Federal Reserve wraps up its two-day meeting on Wednesday. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.1 percent. The Fed is also expected to leave the door open for a rate increase at their December 12-13 meeting.

The U.S. central bank also said after a two-day meeting it will begin reduction of the Fed's $4.5 trillion balance sheet in October by allowing small amounts of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to run off.

WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index rose 3.64 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,503.87.

In early European trade London rose 0.5 percent, Paris gained 0.3 percent and Frankfurt put on 0.6 percent.

Investors also weighed new data on the US housing market that showed sales of previously occupied homes fell 1.7 percent in August.

Stocks are a tough call because investors don't like rising interest rates, however, if the Fed is dovish, stocks should soar which would hurt demand for lower-risk assets like gold.

While it is tipped to keep borrowing costs on hold, the bank's plans for cutting back crisis-era bond-buying stimulus and any signals about the future of interest rates will be pored over.

South Korean shares dipped 0.1 percent, against a backdrop of caution ahead of the Fed meeting as well as continuing tensions on the Korean peninsula. The BSE Sensex was higher by around 208.84 points, or 0.65%, at 32,481 levels at 1152 hours, whereas, NSE Nifty index was higher by 75 points, or 0.74%, at 10,160 level.

Shares of were down 1.3 percent.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added almost 2.0 percent to finish at 20,299.38, coming off a national holiday on Monday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.4 percent.

There was little follow-through from US President Donald Trump's bellicose rhetoric over North Korea on Tuesday.

Regarding oil prices, WTI crude jumped by nearly 1% to $49.97 per barrel while London-based Brent surged by 0.51% to $55.42 after Iraq's energy minister, Jabar al-Luaibi, said on Tuesday at an energy conference in the United Arab Emirates that OPEC well as other oil producers, are considering the option to extend or widen supply cuts a day after the API weekly report indicated a smaller than expected rise in U.S. inventories. MSCI's index of world stocks was last up 0.2 percent and hit an intraday record high of 487.07.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 93 cents, or 1.9 percent, to settle at $50.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

"If the Fed hints at a rate hike in December, the Nikkei will likely rise further helped by the dollar's rise against the yen".

US crude oil prices slipped below $50 per barrel but stayed close to multi-month highs as refineries in Texas continued to restart after Hurricane Harvey.

The euro edged up to touch $1.2019, its highest since September 11.

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