Asian shares traded mixed on Tuesday as cautious sentiment prevailed ahead of the Federal Reserve‘s highly-anticipated meeting, alongside other risk events such as a sudden leadership change down under.
An unimpressive handover from Wall Street also kept a lid on risk appetite. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 declined 0.4 percent each overnight, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq inched down 0.3 percent.
Mainland indices slide
China’s Shanghai Composite index extended Monday’s sharp losses to decline 2.5 percent by the end of the morning trading session.
Among China’s other indexes, the CSI300 Index — which tracks the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen — eased 2.8 percent. The smaller Shenzhen Composite fell 2.5 percent to its lowest level since February 27, while the ChiNext start-up board receded 2.8 percent, extending Monday’s 7.5 percent sell-off which took it though the key 2,000 level.
Disappointing economic indicators, such as fixed-asset investment and industrial production, over the weekend suggested further cooling in the world’s second-biggest economy that will likely prompt the government to roll out more support measures. However, markets were unconvinced that further stimulus was on the way.
“Normally, expectations of more growth boosting action would lead to demand for smaller and speculative stock, like the ChiNext or Shenzhen Composite Index, but today, market participants were probably not convinced that there will be a big plan in the pipeline,” IG’s market strategist Bernard Aw wrote in a note.
In other news, Beijing has seized up to 1 trillion yuan ($157 billion) from local governments who failed to use their budget allocations, a Reutersreport said, as Beijing looks for ways to spend its way out of an economic slowdown.
ASX tanks 1.4%
Australia’s S&P ASX 200 index struggled following a sudden change in the country’s leadership, after the ruling Liberal Party voted out Tony Abbott late Monday in favor of longtime rival Malcolm Turnbull.
Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said the weak economic growth numbers for the second quarter were not a surprise and members noted a number of activity indicators had shown some improvement in recent months, according to the central bank’s meeting minutes released Tuesday. The RBA held interest rates unchanged at 2 percent early September.
In Asian trade, the Australian dollar touched a more than two-week high of $0.7160 against the dollar, before paring gains to last trade at $0.7131.
Nikkei rises 0.9%
The central bank also cut its assessment of exports and factory output. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will hold a news conference at 3.30pm local time to explain the policy decision.
Food-related counters underpinned the gains on Tuesday; Itoham Foods Inc and Yonekyu climbed 2.9 and 8.4 percent respectively, after a report by the Nikkei business daily said both companies are planning an operational merger that would create the country’s biggest vendor of ham and sasuage.
Bucking the uptrend, Toshiba slumped 1.7 percent from the get-go after the troubled conglomerate reported an April-June operating lossof 10.96 billion yen ($91 million) after the market close on Monday, compared with a 47.7 billion yen profit a year earlier.
Telecommunication operators remained under selling pressure following Monday’s local media reports which said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has instructed the communication ministry to lower mobile phone fees, but shares managed to trim losses in early trade. SoftBankand KDDI eased 1.9 and 4.2 percent respectively, while NTT DoCoMoturned negative to lose 1 percent.
South Korea’s Kospi index pared early gains to hover in neutral territory by late-morning trade.
Cheil Industries resumed trade after changing its name to Samsung C&T Inc following a merger. The company makes up 2.5 percent of the main bourse’s market value, ranking it the fourth biggest company, according to Reuters. Shares of Samsung C&T rose 3.2 percent to 163,500 won.
Rest of Asia
Malaysian shares extended gains into a second straight day, up 0.5 percent at a two-week high, thanks to the slew of measures announced on Monday by Prime Minister Najib Razak to support a faltering economy.
Singapore’s Straits Times index notched down 0.8 percent, as investors remain on tenterhooks in light of uncertainties over China and the Fed’s policy meeting.
On the domestic data front, the second-quarter jobless rate in the Southeast Asian city-state was unchanged from the preliminary estimate of 2.0 percent. Retail sales for July are due later in the day.
Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley upgraded Singapore to “most-preferred market” status in the Southeast Asian region, citing potential restructuring in government-linked companies and valuations.