By Daniel Inman
Asian markets were mostly lower Tuesday ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy meeting, led by losses in Shanghai as a long weekend approaches.
The Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +0.21% dropped 2.1% to 2185.56 as banks fell sharply before the Mid-Autumn Festival, which will close markets Thursday and Friday. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank /zigman2/quotes/204296742/delayed CN:600000 -0.32% sank 5.7% and China Merchants Bank /zigman2/quotes/210188047/delayed CN:600036 -2.52% was 4% lower.
In Hong Kong, local banks were in focus, though the index’s declines were moderate, with the Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -0.85% down 0.3% at 23180.52.
Wing Hang Bank soared 39% /zigman2/quotes/214822131/delayed HK:302 -1.96% after announcing that its substantial shareholders had been approached for a possible stake sale in the lender. The news had a knock-on effect on other local financial companies---most notably Dah Sing Banking Group /zigman2/quotes/209411786/delayed HK:2356 -1.92% , which jumped 18%.
Tokyo started the day higher after coming back online after a public holiday Monday, only to lose its early gains as the session progressed. The Nikkei Stock Average ended down 0.7% at 14311.67, weighed by a stronger yen.
Although the yen /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY +0.1431% weakened Tuesday, it remained higher than at the end of last week. The dollar was at 99.21 yen late in Asia compared with ¥99.05 late Monday in New York but still lower than ¥99.37 at the end of Friday.
Stocks and currencies across Asia rose Monday after Lawrence Summers pulled out of the race to replace Ben Bernanke as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. As a result, the dollar weakened against regional currencies, as Mr. Summers had been seen as likely to push for a quicker reduction in the Fed’s stimulus program had he become chairman.
Shares in convenience-store operator Familymart Co. /zigman2/quotes/207640090/delayed JP:8028 -0.34% /zigman2/quotes/206402323/composite FYRTF 0.00% eased 0.1% in Tokyo after rising earlier following a Nikkei report that the company’s March-to-August group pretax profit rose to a fresh six-month high.
Also in Tokyo, pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo Co. /zigman2/quotes/207030186/delayed JP:4568 +0.14% /zigman2/quotes/208524651/composite DSKYF -0.81% dropped 6.8% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration blocked imports of medicine made at the newest plant of India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories, a Daiichi Sankyo subsidiary.
Malaysia’s ringgit /zigman2/quotes/210561817/realtime/sampled USDMYR -0.4550% played catch-up after a holiday, with the currency bumping higher Tuesday---last at 3.2484 ringgit to the dollar compared with Friday’s close of 3.2880 ringgit.
South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.86% fell 0.4% to 2005.58, Australia’s S&P ASX 200 ended up less than 0.1% at 5251.20 and Indonesia’s JSX /zigman2/quotes/210597981/delayed ID:JAKIDX -0.56% was down 0.7% late in Asia.