Asian traders tread ahead of bank decisions

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HONG KONG: Asian stocks markets drifted on Tuesday and the dollar was virtually unmoved with investors biding their time as crucial central bank gatherings in the United States and Japan kick off.

The Fed heads into one of its most keenly awaited policy meetings after weeks of speculation that has fanned volatility across global trading floors, with investors split on whether it will lift interest rates.

At the same time opinion is divided on what the Bank of Japan’s intentions are, with expectations for fresh stimulus tempered by a lack of concrete promises from Tokyo, despite weak growth and almost non-existent inflation.

The uncertainty leading up to the meeting is keeping traders at bay, Chris Weston, chief market analyst in Melbourne at IG Ltd, said.

“No one is prepared to take on too much risk ahead of the Bank of Japan and the Fed Open Market Committee meetings,” he told Bloomberg News.

Tokyo’s Nikkei index swung to and fro through the day before ending 0.2 percent lower.

Hong Kong shed 0.1 percent by the close and Shanghai lost 0.1 percent following healthy gains Monday. Sydney added 0.2 percent and Seoul was 0.5 percent higher, while Singapore shed 0.2 percent.

In early European trade London fell 0.2 percent, Frankfurt was flat and Paris fell 0.3 percent.

Currency markets were also subdued ahead of the bank announcements, which are due Wednesday.
The dollar edged down to 101.70 yen from 101.88 yen in New York while the euro was at $1.1185 from $1.1175.

Sterling bought $1.3055 compared with $1.3028.

Potential for volatility
“It’s not unusual for traders to adopt a more cautious approach ahead of these events, particularly when we have two on the same day, both of which have the potential to create huge amounts of volatility in the markets,” said OANDA senior market analyst Craig Erlam in a note.

Oil prices turned lower again, digging into Monday’s gains as investors grow tetchy about the likelihood of a deal next week between OPEC and Russia aimed at addressing a global supply glut and overproduction.
West Texas Intermediate eased 19 cents to $43.11 and Brent dipped 16 cents to $45.79.

“A big part of the rally was the hope that a deal could be getting closer with agreement at the Algiers meeting potentially leading to another meeting,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at CFD and FX provider AxiTrader.

“But without any solid progress or agreement from all the oil producing countries, volatility and uncertain outlook continues.”

In company news, Japanese airbag supplier Takata tumbled 11.6 percent after a report said some potential
buyers were considering bankruptcy proceedings if they are successful in its purchase.

The firm has been hit by the global auto industry’s biggest-ever safety recall over its exploding bags.

Bloomberg News said private equity firms and auto parts makers were preparing offers for the company, and some were considering the drastic bankruptcy action to mitigate the liabilities.

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