By V. Phani Kumar, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian stocks fell Wednesday as investors awaited the Federal Reserve’s outlook on its bond purchases, with Japanese shares also pressured by a strengthened yen and some downbeat results.
Mainland Chinese equities rose on the back of the property sector amid hopes the government will pursue policies aimed at stable economic growth, while Australian shares gained on expectations of an interest-rate cut.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.31% fell 1.5%, giving back nearly all of the gains recorded in the previous session. South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -0.03% slipped 0.2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -0.01% dropped 0.3%.
/zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed NIK 23,287.00, -73.30, -0.31%
/zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed XJO 5,907.10, +123.00, +2.13%
“While the possibility of the Fed toning down their view on the economy is high, traders are looking closely for any change in language with regards to tapering its bond purchases,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets.
Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.52% futures were up 8 points, or 0.1%, at 15,501 ahead of the Fed’s statement later in the day. Markets were also looking ahead to data on the U.S. economic growth in the second-quarter, with estimates compiled by MarketWatch projecting a 1% expansion, slowing from a 1.8% increase in the first quarter.
In Tokyo, a slew of Japanese results announced after the market’s close on Tuesday influenced share movements during the session.
In other earnings-driven moves, shares of fellow wireless-telecommunications firm KDDI /zigman2/quotes/204923990/delayed JP:9433 +0.47% /zigman2/quotes/205540401/delayed KDDIY 0.00% spiked 6.9% and Tokyo Electron Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202883609/delayed JP:8035 +1.85% /zigman2/quotes/206919677/delayed TOELY +0.21% gained 3.7%, while Japan Tobacco Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208255672/delayed JP:2914 -1.09% /zigman2/quotes/208949046/delayed JAPAF +3.59% gave up 0.9% and Fujitsu Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/208459594/delayed JP:6702 +0.99% /zigman2/quotes/208783738/delayed FJTSY -0.19% fell 3.1%.
Several power utilities tumbled amid concerns over public and political resistance to restarting shuttered nuclear-power plants. Tokyo Electric Power Co. /zigman2/quotes/202771076/delayed JP:9501 -1.64% /zigman2/quotes/205839055/delayed TKECY -0.87% slid 5.7%, Chubu Electric Power Co. /zigman2/quotes/208115192/delayed JP:9502 +0.04% /zigman2/quotes/202741009/delayed CHUEF +0.33% lost 4.4%, and Kansai Electric Power Co. /zigman2/quotes/200592152/delayed JP:9503 -0.19% /zigman2/quotes/200834682/delayed KAEPY -1.51% surrendered 5.1%.
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Toyota Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 +0.20% /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM +0.78% dropped 1.7% ahead of its own earnings report Friday. A Nikkei newspaper report it plans to manufacture more than 10 million vehicles worldwide this year.
Elsewhere, China’s Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +0.02% climbed 0.2%, after the powerful politburo of China’s communist party said late Tuesday it would act to maintain steady growth in the second half of 2013.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists led by Ting Lu wrote in a note that unlike the previous government, the politburo didn’t vow to control home prices or to cool the property market, saying instead that it seeks to promote a healthy and stable development of the property sector.
“This message could be interpreted that the new leadership has no intention to take further measures to restrict home demand and tighten financing of the property sector,” Merrill Lynch added.
Chinese property and construction-related shares rallied to lead the advance.
Shares of Poly Real Estate Group Co. /zigman2/quotes/201864015/delayed CN:600048 -0.59% jumped 3.2%, Gemdale Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208026094/delayed CN:600383 -1.69% added 3.7%, and Anhui Conch Cement Co. /zigman2/quotes/204422624/delayed CN:600585 -0.95% rose 1.5% in Shanghai. The yuan-denominated A-shares of China Vanke Co. advanced 2.8% in Shenzhen.
In Hong Kong, China Resources Land Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202417326/delayed HK:1109 -0.71% /zigman2/quotes/201656413/delayed CRBJF +6.32% climbed 3.4%, and Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. /zigman2/quotes/200033596/delayed HK:2777 -1.22% /zigman2/quotes/210465272/delayed GZUHY +0.77% gained 6.7%.
Among other notable movers, shares of Huaneng Power International Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202897411/delayed HK:902 -1.62% /zigman2/quotes/202495959/composite HNP -1.92% /zigman2/quotes/208446338/delayed CN:600011 -0.54% rose 1.9% in Hong Kong after the power producer said its half-year profit more than doubled.
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China Cosco Holdings Co. /zigman2/quotes/205658335/delayed HK:1919 +3.37% /zigman2/quotes/208833970/delayed CN:601919 +2.79% /zigman2/quotes/209913760/delayed CICOY -3.93% fell 4.5% in Hong Kong and slipped 0.4% in Shanghai, after the shipping major estimated narrower losses for the first six months of 2013.
Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +2.13% rose 0.1% in Sydney after Reserve Bank of Australia Gov. Glenn Stevens Tuesday said current inflation levels wouldn’t rule out further easing. Those remarks helped the index rebound in the previous session to end flat.
Banks and other stocks paying high dividends rose amid rising expectations for a further reduction to interest rates. AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said late Tuesday that the markets had priced in a 91% chance of a rate cut at next week’s RBA meeting, following Gov. Stevens’ comments.
Bank of Queensland Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205781039/delayed AU:BOQ +1.03% /zigman2/quotes/209672922/delayed BKQNY +7.79% rose 0.9%, and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group /zigman2/quotes/205482049/delayed AU:ANZ +1.70% /zigman2/quotes/203732563/delayed ANZBY -1.00% added 0.6%.