SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets mostly edged higher Tuesday following a relatively subdued start to the global trading week as investors look ahead to the Fed meeting stateside.

Australian shares rose as the benchmark ASX 200 gained 0.8% to 6,827.10, after finishing near flat in the previous session. Most sectors traded up except for the energy and materials subindexes, which closed down 0.17% and 0.65%, respectively.

Oil stocks and major miners closed mixed but the so-called Big Four banks advanced: Shares of Commonwealth Bank climbed 0.9% while ANZ rose 0.56%, Westpac added 0.61% and National Australia Bank advanced 0.42%.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan advanced 0.52% to 29,921.09 while the Topix index gained 0.65% to 1,981.50. In South Korea, the Kospi added 0.7% to 3,067.17 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.6% in late-afternoon trade.

Chinese mainland shares reversed earlier losses to close higher: The Shanghai composite added 0.78% to 3,446.73 and the Shenzhen component advanced 0.91% to 13,642.95.

That follows an overnight session on Wall Street where the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 inched higher to closed at record highs amid optimism over the economic reopening.

Fed meeting

The Federal Open Market Committee is due to meet on March 16 and 17.

That is “undoubtedly another factor keeping investors a little bit cautious at the start of the new week,” Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign-exchange strategist at the National Australia Bank, said in a Tuesday morning note.

“There is a lot of focus on whether the new forecasts and dots plot will vindicate the current lift in Fed hike expectations,” he said.

Every quarter, members of the FOMC forecast where interest rates will go in the short, medium and long term. These projections are represented visually in charts and are called a dot plot.

A surge in interest rates and a rebounding U.S. economy has put the central bank’s easy policies in the spotlight and market watchers have questioned when the Fed may consider unwinding those policies.

The Bank of England is due to meet on Thursday and the Bank of Japan will also begin its two-day policy meeting that day.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia released the minutes of its March monetary policy meeting, and said that members concluded “very significant monetary support would be required for some time, as it would be some years before the Bank’s goals for inflation and unemployment were achieved.”

TICKER COMPANY NAME PRICE CHANGE %CHANGE
.N225 Nikkei 225 Index NIKKEI 29870.77 -50.32 -0.17
.HSI Hang Seng Index HSI 29000.18 -27.51 -0.09
.AXJO S&P/ASX 200 ASX 200 6792.40 -34.70 -0.51
.SSEC Shanghai SHANGHAI 3435.96 -10.77 -0.31
.KS11 KOSPI Index KOSPI 3028.05 -39.12 -1.28
.FTFCNBCA CNBC 100 ASIA IDX CNBC 100 11152.34 -51.92 -0.46

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded up 0.12% at 91.941 against a basket of peers, climbing from an earlier level around 91.780.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 109.2, staying relatively flat. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar fell 0.36% to $0.7726.

Oil prices stumbled on Tuesday during Asian trading hours. U.S. crude futures fell 0.84% to $64.84 a barrel while global benchmark Brent declined 0.78% to $68.34.

SOURCE : https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/16/asia-markets-fed-meeting-dollar-moves-investors-cautious.html