Asian stocks drop ahead of central bank meetings

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets fell Tuesday ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan policy meetings, as commodity prices ran out of steam, dragging on big miners.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.1 percent to 17,253.54 and South Korea's Kospi was down less than 0.1 percent at 2,014.15. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 0.8 percent to 21,131.45 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.2 percent to 5,286.90. The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3 percent to 2,938.52. Taiwan was higher but markets in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines declined.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "After a brief pause, share market volatility is set to resume this week as central bank meetings, important economic releases and U.S. company reporting all offer potentially game changing assessments of the global economy and the fortunes of individual companies," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

FED WATCH: Investors are not expecting the Federal Reserve to change policy this month but its two-day meeting will be watched for any indications about it future moves and when it would resume rate hikes. The result will be announced late night Wednesday in Asia and will affect the region's financial markets on Thursday.

JAPAN WATCH: A string of economic reports are due before the Bank of Japan's monthly policy meeting on Thursday, including Japan's consumer price index, unemployment figures, retails sales and industrial production. Expectations have risen that the BOJ will opt for more stimulus.

COMMODITIES: The rally in prices for commodities such as iron ore has paused, affecting major Australian miners and others in the sector. Shares in global miner Rio Tinto Ltd. fell 3 percent, while BHP Billiton lost 2.5 percent.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks slipped in quiet trading Monday as energy companies dropped with the price of oil. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.2 percent to 17,977.24. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.2 percent to 2,087.79. The Nasdaq composite index slid 0.2 percent to 4,895.79.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 31 cents to $42.95 per barrel in New York. The contract fell $1.09, or 2.5 percent, to $42.64 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 26 cents to $44.74 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.93 yen from 111.12 yen while the euro rose slightly to $1.1271 from $1.1268.