Asian shares slip ahead of US Fed decision

Asian shares slip ahead of US Fed decision

HONG KONG - Asian bourses were listless in early trade Tuesday ahead of the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting, and as lingering concerns over Chinese and US economic data weighed heavily on global markets.

US stocks finished mixed Monday, with investors cautious ahead of the Fed's two-day monetary policy meeting.

The meeting which opens Tuesday could see the US central bank adjust its timing for raising benchmark interest rates, as critics say its nearly six-year-old zero rate policy is feeding asset bubbles and possibly inflation.

The Fed has previously said it would keep interest rates low for a "considerable time" after ending its massive stimulus programme, based on continued weakness in the labour market.

A rate increase could hurt Asian markets, by making them vulnerable to a selloff as the incentive for investors to seek higher yields in regional markets is reduced.

Tokyo stocks were 0.33 per cent lower at the break after a long weekend, threatening to break a five-day rally. Shanghai was flat, Seoul edged up just 0.1 per cent and Hong Kong's bourse was closed due to a typhoon warning.

Official US data released Monday showed industrial production unexpectedly fell in August by 0.1 per cent, after six months of gains, while manufacturing output fell 0.4 per cent.

The data added to worries after China reported over the weekend that industrial production stuttered in August, with growth dropping sharply to 6.9 per cent, the slowest pace in more than five years.

The dollar was at 107.15 yen in Asian trade compared with 107.18 yen in New York Monday afternoon.

The euro bought $1.2938 and 138.63 yen against $1.2940 and 138.69 yen in US trade.

US stocks finished mixed Monday as the tech-rich Nasdaq dropped more than one per cent following a cautious report on Tesla Motors.

The Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 1.07 per cent to 4,518.90, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.26 per cent to 17,031.14.

European stocks were also mixed, ahead of Scotland's independence vote which has unnerved markets and kept investors at bay.

The Hong Kong stock exchange cancelled its morning trading session as a powerful typhoon swept past the city.

Authorities raised the number-eight typhoon warning - the third in a five-tier system - which shutters schools and businesses, but lowered it around 0300 GMT, allowing the bourse to reopen in the afternoon.

Typhoon Kalmaegi, packing gusts of 125 kilometres (77 miles) per hour, also forced the closure of Hong Kong's container ports, and saw some 500 flights delayed and nearly 40 cancelled.

Oil prices were mixed in early trade. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery fell 14 cents to $92.78 while Brent crude for November rose seven cents to $97.95.

Gold was at $1,236.80 an ounce, against $1,234.92 an ounce late Monday.

 

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