Asian markets mixed ahead of Fed decision, China meeting

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TOKYO (AP) — Asian markets were mixed Wednesday as investors watched for news from a U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting and from China's annual legislative session.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.8 percent to close at 16,974.45. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent to 1,974.90. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.4 percent to 20,218.64, while the Shanghai Composite index rose 0.3 percent to 2,871.69. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 5,175.70. Shares were higher in Taiwan but lower in Singapore and Indonesia.

THE FED: Investors around the world are waiting for the U.S. Federal Reserve's Open Markets Committee remarks on interest rates and the economy on Wednesday. The Consumer Price Index report also is due for release.

THE QUOTE: "The big question rattling around markets is when will the Fed act again?" said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA Asia Pacific. "This concern has traders in 'cautious mode' across Asia today as the FOMC meeting looms large on their radar screens."

CHINA FACTOR: Markets are also watching for news from the annual session of China's National People's Congress. Concerns have been growing lately that the economy is losing momentum and can no longer serve as such a strong driver of regional growth.

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average added 22.40 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,251.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3.71 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,015.93. The Nasdaq composite index slipped 21.61 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,728.67.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 53 cents to $36.87 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 84 cents to $36.34 on Tuesday. Brent crude, the benchmark used to price international oils, gained 35 cents at $39.09 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro slipped to $1.1091 from $1.1100. The dollar recovered to 113.40 yen from 113.16 yen.


AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed to this report.