Asian markets rise ahead of Fed stimulus update


BEIJING — Asian stock markets rebounded Wednesday after Wall Street fell on weak retail sales as investors awaited an update from the Federal Reserve on possible plans to reduce U.S. stimulus.

The Shanghai Composite Index CN:SHCOMP gained 0.6% and the Nikkei 225 JP:NIK in Tokyo added 0.8%. The Hang Seng HK:HSI in Hong Kong was 0.7% higher.

The Kospi KR:180721 in Seoul advanced 0.8% and Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 AU:XJO added 0.2%. Benchmark indexes in Singapore SG:STI and Indonesia ID:JAKIDX gained, while stocks fell in Taiwan TW:Y9999.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index declined Tuesday from a record high after U.S. retail sales in July were weaker than expected.

Investors watched for the Fed’s release Wednesday of minutes from its July policy meeting for an update on when the central bank might start reducing bond purchases that pump money into the financial system and look at raising interest rates.

Some Fed officials, citing strong hiring growth and rising inflation, say policy normalization should start soon. Others argue the Fed needs to see stronger economic data to be sure a recovery is established.

“Overall, there seems to be an absence of positive catalysts to boost sentiments,” said Yeap Jun Rong of IG in a report. “Market sentiments may thus largely remain on hold, with the upcoming Fed minutes on watch next.”

Also Wednesday, Japan reported July exports rose by double digits for the fifth straight month, and were up 37% from the same time a year ago.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 SPX lost 0.7% to 4,448.08 for its biggest decline in four weeks amid signs the coronavirus is holding back the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA lost 0.8% to 35,343.28. The Nasdaq composite COMP dropped 0.9% to 14,656.18.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude CLU21 gained 7 cents to $66.66 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 70 cents on Tuesday to $66.59. Brent crude BRNV21, the price basis for international oils, advanced 7 cents to $69.09 per barrel in London. It fell 48 cents the previous session to $69.03 a barrel.

The dollar USDJPY was little-changed at 109.58 yen.

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