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Asia stocks edge up, markets hushed for Fed

Latest Update: July 29, 2015 | 175 Views

SYDNEY: Asian shares clung to modest gains on Wednesday on hopes that Beijing could stem the rout in its markets without damage to the economy, while caution ruled elsewhere ahead of a policy decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The major European markets were also expected to open higher, while the calmer mood prompted a bounce in some hard-beaten commodities including copper.

While China’s main indexes could not sustain an early rally neither were they much lower, a relief after Monday’s 8 percent plunge. The CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen was off 0.7 percent, while the Shanghai Composite slipped 1 percent.

Sentiment has been soothed a little by pledges from Chinese regulators to buy shares to stabilize stocks if needed and hints of more policy easing from the central bank.

The steadier tone was enough to lift Australia’s main index 0.9 percent, while MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei eased 0.3 percent, hit by sharp falls in Fanuc Corp and Tokyo Electron.

On Wall Street, the Dow had ended on Tuesday with gains of 1.09 percent, while the S&P 500 rose 1.24 percent and the Nasdaq 0.98 percent.

Not faring so well was Twitter, which sank 11 percent in extended trade after the microblogging company said its monthly average users grew at the slowest pace since it went public in 2013.

The Fed ends a two-day policy meeting later on Wednesday with markets divided on whether it will take a hawkish or dovish stance, while some suspect it might chose to do neither. No move on rates is expected this week.

In recent congressional testimony, Fed Chair Janet Yellen neither ruled out a September hike nor guided the market toward thinking it was a done deal.

“We think the upcoming FOMC statement will reflect this non-committal approach,” said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets.

“In other words, there will be no explicit tweak to the guidance signaling a hike is imminent.”

At most, the Fed might sound a little more positive on the economy and describe risks to the outlook as balanced rather than “nearly” balanced, Porcelli added.

In currency markets, investors seemed to decide it was safer not to be actively short of the U.S. dollar ahead of the policy statement at 1800 GMT.

That kept the dollar steady at 123.45 yen, from a low of 123.04 on Tuesday, while the euro softened to $1.1052.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was off 0.1 percent at 96.716.

In energy markets, oil prices were subdued ahead of official data on U.S. stockpiles.

Brent futures LCOc1 were down 24 cents at $53.06 a barrel and near their lowest since February. U.S. crude futures CLc1 slipped 22 cents to $47.76 a barrel.



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