Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street as investors adopted a cautious stance ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision due later in the day.
While the Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, traders are likely to pay close attention to the accompanying statement for clues about the outlook for policy, including details of how the central bank plans to start shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.
The Australian market is declining with stocks lower across the board, as investors remained cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 21.40 points or 0.37 percent to 5,692.20, off a low of 5,680.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 19.80 points or 0.34 percent to 5,752.60.
Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is down almost 2 percent, Rio Tinto is losing more than 1 percent and BHP Billiton is declining almost 1 percent after iron ore prices dropped to below $70 a ton.
BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie’s annual pay has more than doubled to $4.55 million in fiscal 2017, while short term incentives were also restored.
In the banking sector, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 0.7 percent to 1.1 percent.
Oil stocks are also lower after crude oil prices fell overnight. Santos is down almost 1 percent, Woodside Petroleum is losing 1 percent and Oil Search is declining more than 1 percent.
Meanwhile, gold miners are mixed despite higher gold prices. Evolution Mining is adding 0.4 percent, while Newcrest Mining is down more than 1 percent.
Seven Group Holdings said it will buy the remaining 53.3 percent stake in equipment hire company Coates Hire for A$517 million. The company’s shares are gaining more than 8 percent.
Health insurer NIB Holdings’ shares are in a trading halt for a capital raising to fund its A$155.5 million acquisition of GU Health.
On the economic front, Australia will see August results for skilled vacancies and the Westpac leading index today.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.8000, up from US$0.7981 on Tuesday.
The Japanese market is flat after opening higher following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street as well as the strong gains recorded in the previous session….