Asian stocks fell broadly on Wednesday as investors refrained from making big bets ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement later in the day.
Amid the backdrop of growing evidence of pricing pressures building in the economy, investors await the U.S. central bank’s comments on inflation and the stimulus outlook.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index slumped 38.23 points, or 1.1 percent, to 3,518.33 as investors awaited a slew of economic data later in the day for directional cues. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended down 201.69 points, or 0.7 percent, at 28,436.84.
Trade tensions persisted, with Australia announcing it is preparing itself before asking the World Trade Organization (WTO) to resolve its wine-tariff trade dispute with Beijing.
The WTO action for arbitration is “under active consideration” and Australia would be “making a decision very shortly,” Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said.
Japanese shares closed lower as exports and core machinery orders data missed expectations. The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 150.29 points, or 0.5 percent, to 29,291.01, while the broader Topix finished marginally higher at 1,975.86.
Exports skyrocketed 49.6 percent year-on-year in May, missing forecasts for a jump of 51.3 percent. The overall value of core machine orders in Japan rose 0.6 percent sequentially in April, missing expectations for an increase of 2.7 percent.
Automaker Toyota Motor rose about 1 percent on economic recovery hopes, while Fast Retailing, the operator of Uniqlo, fell 2.7 percent and Sony gave up 2.9 percent.
Australian markets ended little changed as mining and tech stocks fell, offsetting gains in the energy and banking sectors.
Beach Energy, Oil Search, Origin Energy and Santos all rose over 1 percent as oil prices reached their highest in more than two years on expectations of a strong recovery in demand. Banks ANZ, Commonwealth and NAB rose between 0.7 percent and 1.3 percent.
Tech stocks underperformed, with Appen tumbling 4.3 percent. Weaker copper prices weighed on the mining sector, with BHP and Fortescue Metals Group ending down 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively. OZ Minerals lost 6.7 percent. Gold miners also ended broadly lower.
Seoul stocks hit a fresh record high for the third straight day on hopes for a vaccine-driven economic recovery. The Kospi climbed 20.05 points, or 0.6 percent, to finish at 3,278.68, extending its winning streak to five sessions.
Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor both rose over 1 percent, while LG Household & Health Care shares surged 6.7 percent. Naver added 1 percent on reports that its consortium with retail giant E-Mart has been picked as the preferred bidder for eBay Korea.
New Zealand shares fell sharply, with the benchmark NZX 50 Index ending down 114.79 points, or 0.9 percent, at 12,581.60 after dairy commodity prices fell at the latest auction.
New Zealand’s current account deficit for the year ended March 2021 narrowed to NZ$7.2 billion (2.2 percent of GDP) from the NZ$9.1 billion deficit for the March 2020 year (2.8 percent of GDP), Statistics New Zealand said earlier today.
U.S. stocks ended lower overnight after separate reports showed Americans slowed their spending in May and producer prices rose at their fastest annual clip in nearly 11 years in the month.
New York manufacturing activity cooled somewhat in June and confidence among homebuilders declined to a 10-month low, while a measure of industrial production grew at a stronger than expected pace in May.
The Dow shed 0.3 percent, the S&P 500 eased 0.2 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gave up 0.7 percent.
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