Asian Shares Decline As Investors Await Fed Decision

Asian stocks declined on Wednesday, as investors awaited the Fed’s monetary policy decision, the summary of economic projections and the updated quarterly rate projections — known as the dot plot —at the conclusion of a two-day policy meeting later in the day.

The U.S. central bank is expected to maintain current interest rates despite persistent inflation exceeding the target range. New projections may show at least one more rate hike this year.

The dollar held steady in Asian trading and gold prices were little changed, while oil prices fell nearly $1 a barrel ahead of the Fed’s interest-rate decision.

Chinese shares ended lower as growth worries lingered despite last week’s better-than-expected data.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.5 percent to 3,108.57 as the People’s Bank of China kept its benchmark lending rates unchanged. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended down 0.6 percent at 17,885.60.

Japanese shares fell notably, and the yen rose from its nearly 10-month low after U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said any intervention by Japan to prop up the yen would be understandable if it were aimed to smooth out volatility.

Investors also digested government data that showed Japan recorded a $6.3 billion trade deficit in August amid decreases in exports and imports.

The Nikkei 225 Index fell 0.7 percent to 33,023.78, while the broader Topix Index settled 1 percent lower at 2,406, slipping further from a 33-year peak scaled last week.

Resource stocks paced the declines as oil prices fell from 10-month highs ahead of the Fed meeting.

Seoul stocks ended little changed, with the Kospi finishing marginally higher at 2,559.74, led by battery and auto stocks.

Hyundai Motor rallied 2.6 percent, its smaller affiliate Kia added 2.5 percent and auto parts-making affiliate Hyundai Mobis advanced 2.3 percent.

Australian markets fell for a third straight session amid selling in the mining, energy and technology sectors.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.5 percent to 7,163.30, while the broader All Ordinaries Index closed 0.5 percent lower at 7,361.90.

BHP, Rio Tinto, Santos and Woodside Energy gave up 1-2 percent, tracking lower commodity prices. Xero lost 2.8 percent in the technology sector.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index slipped 0.2 percent to 11,324.82 as official data showed the country’s current account deficit narrowed in the second quarter.

U.S. stocks closed lower overnight as investors looked for any change in communication from the Federal Reserve.

Also, a measure of U.S. housing starts hit a three-year low in a worrying sign for the economy.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.2 percent to its lowest closing level in almost a month, while the Dow eased 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 shed 0.2 percent.

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