Picture used for illustrative purpose. File
Shares retreated in Asia on Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy announcement. Benchmarks rose modestly in Tokyo and jumped in Sydney, but fell back in Hong Kong, Seoul and Shanghai.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 edged 0.1% higher to 23,475.53 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.2%, to 24,682.78. South Korea's Kospi gave up 0.4% to 2,433.41 and the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney jumped 1% to 5,952.00. The Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.4% to 3,282.34.
India's Sensex edged 0.1% higher to 39,088.69 even as the number of the country's confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to nearly 5 million, second only to the US case count of 6.6 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The actual number of cases is thought to be much higher.
Shares rose in Taiwan and were mostly higher in Southeast Asia.
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 3,401.20 after gaining more than 1% earlier in the session, its second straight sizable gain following the benchmark' index's worst week since June.
Investors are awaiting the outcome of the US Federal Reserve policy meeting later Wednesday, which is expected to keep the benchmark rate at nearly zero for some time to help the economy recover from the pandemic downturn.
The US central bank will release a statement that economists say might change some of the language around its existing pledge to buy bonds to support markets.
"Asian markets already have a quiet look about them, as they remain in wait and see mode ahead of the latest FOMC rate decision that is released in the early hours of tomorrow morning,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary.
Japan reported that its trade balance swung into surplus in August as a 15% decline in exports from a year earlier was outpaced by a 21% drop in imports.
Exports have been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic but the rate of decline has been narrowing over the past several months as shutdowns eased and the Chinese economy began to recover from a sharp downturn in early spring.
Markets rose last week after unexpectedly strong U.S. jobs data despite some American states reporting record new coronavirus infections.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.3% and further away from a four-month top hit last week. Japan's Nikkei shed 2.2% and Chinese blue chips 0.9%.
All major Asian indexes were upbeat with Japan's Nikkei rising 0.1%, China's blue-chip index adding 1.7% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 1.8%.
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