Asia markets rise modestly ahead of Fed meeting

by Jonathan Adams
markets rise

Nikkei 225 moved up 0.1%, Hang Seng index was about flat, the Shanghai Composite was little changed, and Kospi gained 0.1%

Asian markets rose modestly in early trading Wednesday, as traders awaited news from the U.S. Federal Reserve later in the day.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 inched up 0.1%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was about flat. The Shanghai Composite was little changed, and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite fell 0.7%. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.1%. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia gained, while Indonesian stocks were flat. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1%.

New data Wednesday showed Japan’s exports plunged in 14.8% in August, but that was still better than the previous month and beat analysts’ expectations. Exports to China grew 5.1% while exports to the U.S. sank 21.3%.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet officially resigned Wednesday, clearing the way for Yoshihide Suga to be confirmed as the country’s next prime minister.

Asian markets already have a quiet look about them, as they remain in wait-and-see mode ahead of the latest FOMC rate decision, Jeffrey Halley, senior Asia-Pacific market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to signal on Wednesday that its interest-rate policy will remain unchanged and close to zero through the end of 2023. The Fed will release a policy statement at 2 p.m. Eastern, and Chairman Jerome Powell will hold a press conference a half hour later.

Stocks made modest gains Tuesday on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.27 points to finish at 27,995.60, while the S&P 500 gained 17.66 points, or 0.5%, to trade at 3,401.20, marking its third straight increase. The Nasdaq Composite finished up 133.67 points, or 1.2%, at 11,190.32, logging back-to-back gains.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 68 cents to $38.96 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 65 cents to $41.18 a barrel.

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