Asia-Pacific markets mixed in cautious trade as Fed takes center-stage
Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Wednesday as investors wait for the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting later in the day.
Australia shares deepened their losses as the ASX 200 fell 0.82%, with most sectors trading lower. The energy and materials subindexes declined 1.5% and 1.42%, respectively as oil and mining stocks broadly struggled for gains. Major miners Rio Tinto and BHP were down 1.44% and 1.53%.
Chinese mainland shares were mixed: The Shanghai composite was near flat but the Shenzhen component traded up 1.08%. Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index eking out a 0.29% gain.
That followed an overnight session where the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 130 points, breaking a seven-day winning streak.
The Federal Open Market Committee’s policy meeting will take center stage, according to Carol Kong, a strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
She explained in a morning note that both U.S. bond yields and the dollar could jump if the Fed’s post-meeting statement and Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks are not deemed dovish enough. “We do not expect the FOMC to be worried about or even note the lift in bond yields in their post‑meeting statement. Higher bond yields are not a constraint on the US economic recovery,” she wrote.
“We expect Chair Powell to note the FOMC has the tools to intervene if the bond market becomes disorderly or constrains the economic recovery,” Kong said, adding that the Australian bank also expects the Fed to upgrade its GDP and inflation forecasts due to vaccination rollout and fiscal stimulus.
|.N225||Nikkei 225 Index||NIKKEI||29914.33||-6.76||-0.02|
|.HSI||Hang Seng Index||HSI||29004.70||-22.99||-0.08|
|.AXJO||S&P/ASX 200||ASX 200||6795.20||-31.90||-0.47|
|.FTFCNBCA||CNBC 100 ASIA IDX||CNBC 100||11155.67||-48.59||-0.43|
In the currency market, the U.S dollar traded near flat at 91.926 against a basket of its peers, climbing from an earlier level at 91.856. The index has stayed relatively rangebound this week as it attempts to break the 92 level again.
Overnight, prices fell as traders worried about the recovery in fuel demand after major European countries suspended the use of a crucial Covid-19 vaccine from Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca, which implied economic recovery from the pandemic-led crisis may potentially be delayed.
Experts have warned that the suspension could have far-reaching consequences.
“Crude oil fell as the market frets over the uneven global recovery in demand,” analysts at ANZ Research said in a morning note. “Growing demand has surfaced in India and the US in recent months, but Europe remains weak.”
“Concerns that demand could fall further have been rising as Europe’s health ministers suspend the rollout of AstraZeneca vaccine amid health concerns,” the analysts added.