Asia-Pacific Stocks Stumble Ahead of Fed Meeting

Asia-Pacific markets were mostly lower on Tuesday as investors turned cautious ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting on Wednesday, when it is widely assumed the federal funds rate will be hiked by 25 basis points, to 1.25% to 1.50%. The fed-funds rate-the overnight lending rate that banks charge one another for funds maintained at the central bank-helps shape the short end of the bond-market yield curve.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 0.59%, with selling in some of the best performing stocks of the year. Index heavyweights Tencent (700.HK), Geely Automobile (0175.HK) and Apple-supplier AAC Technologies (2018.HK) all fell more than 3% each. Sunny Optical (2382.HK), which is up a whopping 225% so far this year, plunged almost 5%. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite dropped 1%, while the CSI 300, which tracks large cap companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen, closed more than 1% lower.

Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.32%, while the broader Topix retreated 0.1%. Energy stocks were among the best performers as Brent crude climbed above $65 a barrel for first time since 2015, with Idemitsu Kosan (5019.JP) jumping 4.2%, Cosmo Energ y (5021.JP) gaining 3.6% and Inpex (1605.JP) climbing 3.5%. Showa Denko (4004.JP) was one of the worst performers, falling 2.6% after the chemical maker guided for lower-than-expected 2017 operating profit. Ajinomoto (2802.JP) slipped 2.5% after the food conglomerate was downgraded to neutral from buy at Mizuho.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200rose 0.25% to break through the 6,000 point barrier boosted by property stocks. Westfield (WFD.AU) was placed in a trading pending the announcement of a major transaction. The shopping mall operator announced after market close that it had accepted a USD 24.7 billion cash and stock offer fromUnibail-Rodamco, Europe's largest listed commercial property company. Shares in other listed property stocks jumped on the speculation triggered by the trading halt - Scentre (SCG.AU) gained 4.07%, Dexus (DXS.AU) advanced 3.08%, Mirvac Group (MGR.AU) rose 2.85%, Vicinity Centres climbed 2.5%, while GPTGroup (GPT.AU)closed up 2.42%. Mining and energy stocks were also among the best performers on the back of higher commodity prices with Fortescue Metals jumping 1.95%, BHP Billiton (BHP.AU) gaining 1.65% and Rio Tinto (RIO.AU) climbing 1.1%. Shares in ANZ (ANZ.AU) jumped 1.12% after the bank announced the sale of its Wealth Australia life insurance business to Zurich Financial for AUD 2.85 billion. Retail Food Group (RFG.AU) shed a further 5% after plummeting 26% on Monday following Fairfax Media's allegations that Australia's biggest food franchise operator is running its franchisees into the ground with a brutal business model.

Elsewhere, Korea's KOSPI index closed 0.4% lower, while Taiwan's tech-heavy TAIEX closed 0.28% lower.

European markets are marginally higher, with the Euro STOXX 50 up 0.17%, the German DAX 0.07% higher, while the France CAC 40 has gained 0.21%.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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