Asian markets mixed ahead of Fed meeting

GMT 12:40 2014 Wednesday ,17 December

Arab Today, arab today Asian markets mixed ahead of Fed meeting

Tokyo stocks
Tokyo - AFP

 Asian markets were mixed Wednesday as bargain-hunting was offset by more losses on Wall Street, while investors await the outcome of a Federal Reserve policy meeting.
Oil prices extended their losses to fresh five-and-a-half-year lows. The dollar recovered slightly against the yen ahead of the Fed get-together, which is being closely watched for clues about its interest rate plans.
Tokyo rose 0.38 percent, or 64.41 points, to finish at 16,819.73 after sinking almost three percent in the previous two sessions.
Sydney added 0.19 percent, or 9.6 points, to 5,161.9 and Shanghai jumped 1.31 percent, or 39.50 points, to end at 3,061.02, a four-year high.
But Seoul fell 0.21 percent, or 3.97 points, to 1,900.16 while Hong Kong gave up 0.37 percent, or 84.66 points, to 22,585.84.
Global markets have been in turmoil this week due to concerns about the effect of plunging oil prices on energy firms as well as the crude-dependent Russian economy, which is also straining under Western sanctions.
The ruble -- which plunged to a record low of 80 to the dollar Tuesday -- sat at 70.77 in early Moscow trade Wednesday.
The central bank ramped up interest rates to 17 percent from 10.5 percent Tuesday and spent about $2 billion to try to support the unit.
Sebastien Barbe, head of emerging market research and strategy at Credit Agricole said in a note that the rate hike and plunging oil prices suggest "a meaningful recession next year".
"Further depreciation pressure suggests that rate hikes and forex intervention may not be enough. At the current juncture, the odds of targeted capital controls are increasing significantly."
On Wednesday crude slipped again, ahead of the release of the latest US supply report. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery fell 28 cents to $55.65 while Brent crude for February was down 18 cents to $59.93.
- 'Turmoil far from over' -
US dealers offered Asia a weak lead, with unease over the crude market as well as Russian woes leading to a sell-off on Wall Street Tuesday.
The Dow eased 0.65 percent, the S&P 500 fell 0.85 percent and the Nasdaq tumbled 1.24 percent.
However, some Asia investors took advantage of cheap valuations.
"After several days of steep falls, stocks are definitely cheap enough to pick up, but the markets remains beholden to exterior influences such as volatile currency and commodity price," Hiroichi Nishi, SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
"The turmoil may be far from over."
Eyes are now on the end later Wednesday of the Fed's two-day meeting, with dealers looking for some guidance over monetary policy amid growing speculation that the central bank will raise interest rates by the middle of 2015.
Despite expectations of higher US rates the dollar has retreated against the yen in recent days, with fears over the global economy sending traders into safer investments.
However the greenback fought back to 117.31 yen from 116.59 yen in New York, although it is still a touch down from 117.39 yen in Tokyo earlier Tuesday.
The euro bought 146.27 yen and $1.2462 against 145.86 yen and $1.2511.
Chinese investors continue to pile into the Shanghai market, chasing a rally on hopes the government will introduce measures to kickstart the economy. The huge influx of dealers has seen the composite index surge by a quarter over the past month, helped by an interest rate.
Gold was at $1,197.34 an ounce compared with $1,199.36 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
-- Mumbai fell 0.27 percent, or 71.31 points, to end at 26,710.13 points.
Pharmceutical major Cipla fell 2.92 percent to 605.25 rupees, while Sesa Sterlite gained 3.50 percent to 200.85 rupees.
-- Bangkok closed up 1.26 percent, or 18.46 points, to 1,480.20.
Oil firm PTT Exploration and Production soared 8.91 percent to 110.00 baht, while Bangchak Petroleum gained 6.78 percent to 31.50 baht.
-- Malaysia's main stock index gained 0.48 percent, or 7.96 points, to close at 1681.90.
Malayan Banking rose 1.81 percent to 8.44 ringgit, while AMMB Holdings went up 0.16 percent to 6.21. British American Tobacco fell 1.51 percent to 63.78.
-- Jakarta closed up 0.19 percent, or 9.62 points, at 5,035.65.
Cigarette maker Gudang Garam rose 1.15 percent to 59,175 rupiah, while car maker Astra International lost 1.06 percent to 7,025 rupiah.
-- Singapore finished up 0.38 percent, or 12.14 points, to 3,227.23.
Oil rig maker Keppel Corp rose 3.01 percent to Sg$8.22 while real estate developer Capitaland fell 1.27 percent to Sg$3.10.
-- Taipei tumbled 1.37 percent, or 122.55 points, to 8,828.36.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. fell 1.88 percent to Tw$130.5 while smartphone maker HTC was 1.40 percent lower at Tw$141.0.
-- Wellington was flat, edging up 0.83 points to 5,496.59.
Air New Zealand gained 0.40 percent to NZ$2.51 and Fletcher Building was steady on NZ$7.97.
-- Manila closed 2.71 percent lower, giving up 194.17 points to 6,966.21.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone shed 1.76 percent to 2,790.00 pesos, Ayala Land dropped 2.65 percent to 33.00 pesos and Bloomberry Resorts ended 3.74 percent down to 12.34 pesos.


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