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Asia Markets

Jan. 30, 2019, 7:25 a.m. EST

Asian markets mostly higher ahead of Fed meeting, latest trade talks

Nikkei, Shanghai indexes retreat, Hang Seng gains

By Associated Press and Marketwatch


Bloomberg News
Pedestrians walk past an Apple Inc. store entrance in Shanghai on Tuesday.

Asian markets saw a mixed session Wednesday as traders awaited a Federal Reserve policy meeting and U.S.-China talks, with Japan and Hong Kong benchmarks declining.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index (NIKKEI:JP:NIK)   closed down 0.5%, while South Korea’s Kospi (KOREA:KR:180721)   climbed 1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index (HONG:HK:HSI)   gained 0.4%, while the Shanghai Composite index (SHG:CN:SHCOMP)   finished off 0.7%. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 (S&P:AU:XJO)  rose 0.2%. Stocks rose in Southeast Asia and Taiwan  .

Among individual stocks, Sony (TKS:JP:6758)  , Toyota (TKS:JP:7267)   and SoftBank (TKS:JP:9984)   all slipped in Tokyo trading. In Seoul, SK Hynix (KRX:KR:000660)   and Posco (KRX:KR:005490)   jumped. Real estate companies led gains in Hong Kong, with Country Garden (HKG:HK:2007)  , China Resources Land (HKG:HK:1109)   and China Overseas Land & Investment (HKG:HK:688)   rising. Mining stocks surged in Australia, with Rio Tinto (ASX:AU:RIO)  , Fortescue Mining (ASX:AU:FMG)   and BHP (ASX:AU:BHP)   posting sizeable gains.

U.S. indexes reflected a mixed draw of corporate earnings on Tuesday. 3M (NYS:MMM)  , the maker of Post-it notes, industrial coatings and ceramics, posted upbeat fourth quarter results. Harley-Davidson (NYS:HOG)   reported a drop in sales. Apple (NAS:AAPL)   announced better-than-expected earnings, and its shares surged 5.7% to $163.50 in after-hours trading. The S&P 500 index (S&P:SPX)   retreated 0.1% to 2,640.00 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA)   was up 0.2% at 24,579.96. The Nasdaq composite (NASDAQ:COMP)  shed 0.8% to 7,028.29.

All eyes are on a Federal Open Market Committee meeting ending Wednesday. Although the Fed is expected to leave its short-term interest rate unchanged, the nuances of a press conference by Chairman Jerome Powell will be closely watched.

American and Chinese officials will begin two days of trade talks in Washington. President Donald Trump will reportedly meet Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in an attempt to move negotiations forward. But the Justice Department’s charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei, its subsidiaries and a top company executive may be a hurdle. China has urged U.S. authorities to end what it called an “unreasonable crackdown” against Huawei, which has been accused of stealing technology and violating sanctions on Iran.

“Asia’s markets are trading quietly sideways this morning, and we would expect that to be the theme of the day as the event-risk needle swings much higher from tonight in North America,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a market commentary.

Benchmark U.S. crude   rose 53 cents to $53.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.32 to settle at $53.31 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude  , used to price international oils, picked up 65 cents to $61.85 per barrel. The contract added $1.39 to $61.20 per barrel in London.

The dollar (XTUP:USDJPY)   eased to 109.41 yen from 109.35 yen late Tuesday.

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