Asian stock markets were mixed Wednesday as traders awaited the policy statement by the US Federal Reserve, due later Wednesday. Softer oil prices following a rally undercut energy issues. Hong Kong declined, Shanghai gained, and Tokyo edged back, while regional exchanges were similarly mixed.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 opened evenly but slipped 0.18% as investors booked profits after nine straight sessions, viewed weak national export data, and mulled the Fed outlook.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 40.61 to 21,960.71, as losing issues outnumbered gainers 152 to 64.
Leading the upside on a down day was shipper Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (KAIKY, 9107:Tokyo), up 4.1%, followed by Chubu Electric Power (CHUEF, 9502:Tokyo), up 2.5%, then staffing agency Recruit (RCRRF, 6098:Tokyo), up 2.1%.
On the downside were steelmaker JFE (JFEEF, 5411:Tokyo), off 4.7%, and Kobe Steel (KBSTY, 5406:Tokyo), off 4.4%.
Japan total exports in August declined 8.2% year-over-year, the Ministry of Finance reported. Automobiles and related parts, and semiconductor-production equipment were cited in part for the decline. Exports to Japan’s largest trading partner, China, fell 12.1%.
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The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index opened higher but finished lower by 0.13% as investors pondered ongoing anti-government street protests and the Fed’s pending announcement. The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the US dollar, meaning that the Fed’s policy decisions have a near-direct impact on the competitiveness of Hong Kong businesses. Meanwhile, due to Hong Kong street protests, occupancy rates at hotels “are down around half and the retail and dining sectors have been severely impacted,” reported the Hong Kong Free Press.
The broad gauge Hang Seng fell 36.12 to 26,754.12, as losing issues outnumbered gainers 29 to 19.
Leading the upside was AAC Technologies (2018:HK), a supplier for Apple (AAPL), as it gained 10.2%. AAC was followed by diaper maker Hengan International (1044:HK), up 1.3%, and CK Infrastructure (1038:HK), up 1.1%.
On the downside were China Shenhua Energy (1088:HK), off 2.7%, and then China Petroleum & Chemical (386:HK), off 2.1%.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.25% to 2,986.66, despite declining energy issues.
On the other exchanges, the S. Korean Kospi rose 0.41%; the Taiwan TWSE inclined 0.51%; the Australian ASX 200 lost 0.20%; the Singapore Straits Times Index fell 0.51%, and the Thai Set declined 0.59%. In late trading in Mumbai, the Sensex was up 0.23%. The MSCI Asia Apex 50 gained 0.14%.