Asian stocks ended Tuesday’s session mostly lower as investors braced for the Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday, with the central bank poised to announce its biggest rate hike since 2000. A 50 basis point rate hike along with balance sheet reduction plans are likely to be unveiled at the meeting in an effort to control inflation.
The dollar hovered just below a 20-year high against a basket of currencies, while oil prices slipped after rising overnight on reports that European Union chiefs were discussing a possible embargo on shipments from Russia linked to its operations in Ukraine.
Trading volumes were thin amid public holidays around the region. Markets in China, Japan and India were closed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index settled on a flat note at 21,101.89 as traders returned from a long weekend break.
South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.3 percent to 2,680.46 after data showed inflation in the country accelerated in April to hit the highest level in more than 13 years.
In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 0.4 percent lower at 7,316.20 as the Reserve Bank raised its cash rate by 25 basis points to 0.35 percent, defying expectations for a hike of 15 basis points. It was the first interest rate rise in 11 years.
New Zealand’s NZX-50 Index ended down 0.9 percent at 11,675.92, notching its second negative close for the week. Move Logistics slumped 7.8 percent after announcing its turnaround was taking longer than anticipated due to headwinds in the sector.
Overnight, U.S. stocks recovered from an early slide to end on a firm note, shrugging off weak manufacturing data and concerns over interest rates as the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield breached 3 percent for the first time in more than three years.
The Dow edged up 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.6 percent.
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