Stocks were mostly down in Asia on Wednesday, weighed down by concerns over supply chains and disrupted shipments, despite the Dow Jones Industrial Average first closing above 36,000 points.
Benchmarks fell in most regional markets except Sydney and Taipei. Tokyo markets have been closed for a public holiday.
Investors await comments from the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting on Wednesday, when the central bank is expected to disclose plans to relax extraordinary support measures to support markets and the economy during the pandemic.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has signaled that the Fed will announce after its policy meeting that it will start cutting its $ 120 billion in monthly bond purchases as early as this month. These purchases aim to keep long-term loan rates low to encourage borrowing and spending.
“The markets are largely in wait and see mode before the US Fed meeting. The issue is not so much a question of tapering, which at this point seems inevitable, but more of the timing of future rate hikes, ”Mizuho Bank said in a comment.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.9% to 24,885.46 while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2% to 3,499.19.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s comments about the downward pressure on the economy also rocked investors.
In remarks by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, Li said the government should provide more support for small businesses, reduce taxes and fees, “do a good job of ensuring the stability of supply and electricity and coal prices and take strong action to support manufacturing. “
Seoul’s Kospi fell 1.2% to 2,977.14, while Sydney’s S & P / ASX 200 jumped 1% to 7,399.00. Taiwan has also made progress.
Most Asian countries have also kept their monetary policies loose to deal with the fallout from closures and travel restrictions linked to the pandemic. But some central banks have started to ease the accelerator in response to the price spike.
That includes New Zealand, where the unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, its lowest level in 14 years, despite a lockdown in Auckland’s largest city, Statistics New Zealand reported on Wednesday. The country’s benchmark index rose 0.1%.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand doubled the benchmark rate to 0.5% last month in its first hike in more than seven years. The unemployment figures, along with the high inflation figures, will keep the pressure on the country’s central bank to continue raising interest rates.
On Tuesday, the Dow Jones gained 0.4% to 36,052.63, while the S&P 500 index extended its winning streak for a fourth day, climbing to 4,630.65. The Dow Jones gained 0.4% to 36,052.63, and the tech-rich Nasdaq added 0.3% to 15,649.60.
The Russell 2000 Index hit its first all-time high since March, rising 0.2% to 2,361.86.
Tech and healthcare stocks helped fuel much of the advance. Losses in energy stocks and a mix of companies that rely on direct consumer spending tempered the gains.
Investors have mined corporate earnings for clues as to how businesses are doing as the economy surpasses the pandemic.
Cloud-based networking firm Arista Networks jumped 20.4% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after giving investors an encouraging financial outlook following a strong third quarter report.
Bond yields have fallen. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.54% from 1.57% on Monday night.
Crude oil prices fell 0.2% and weighed on energy stocks. Exxon Mobil fell 1.2%.
Benchmark US crude fell $ 1.52 to $ 82.39 a barrel on Wednesday in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the basis of international prices, lost $ 1.24 to $ 83.48 a barrel.
Later Wednesday, investors will receive another update on services, which are a big part of the economy, when the Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for October.
The central bank’s plan to cut bond purchases also comes as businesses and consumers face higher costs for raw materials and finished goods. Supply chain issues are straining corporate finances and causing companies to raise prices.
Another objective of the central bank is the recovery of the labor market. The job market has lagged behind the rest of the economic recovery as people are reluctant to return to work. Investors will receive another update on Friday when the Labor Department releases its jobs report for October.
In other exchanges, the US dollar fell to 113.80 Japanese yen from 113.97 yen.
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