Asia opens lower; Nikkei down 0.9%, ASX lower by 0.8% and Kospi down 0.2%

Asia opens lower; Nikkei down 0.9%, ASX lower by 0.8% and Kospi down 0.2%
PHOTO: AFP

Asia opened lower on Monday, with markets focus on the sliding dollar and the upcoming two-day policy meeting from the Fed later in the week.

In Australia, the ASX 200's slipped 0.81 per cent to 5,676.4 with most sectors trading lower. The heavily-weighted financials subindex was down 1 per cent as major banking stocks came under pressure.

Shares of ANZ was down 1 per cent, Commonwealth Bank fell 0.88 per cent, Westpac lower by 0.99 per cent and the National Australia Bank slid 1.07 per cent.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.86 per cent to 19,926.49, while the Topix index was down 0.93 per cent at 1,614.96. Across the Korean strait, the Kospi was down 0.15 per cent.

In the currency market, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 93.850, declining from levels above 95.00 traded in the previous week.

Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a Monday note that the dollar weakness seen last week was due to "disparate events combine(d) into a perfect maelstrom - failure of the Senate healthcare bill, widening investigations in Trump's business interests," and optimistic policy tones from the European Central Bank and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Elsewhere, the Japanese yen traded at 110.89 to the dollar, strengthening from an earlier low of 111.19, and the Australian dollar fetched $0.7916.

Ahead of the Fed's meeting, most analysts don't expect the US central bank to move on interest rates.

"The (Federal Open Market Committee) can be guaranteed to leave rates on hold on Wednesday, the only question being whether they decide to firm up guidance on when they expect to commence the process of balance sheet shrinkage," Ray Attrill, head of foreign-exchange strategy at the National Australia Bank, wrote on a Monday note.

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