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Market Update

Asian Markets Choppy; Nikkei Gains

Most Asian markets swung between gains and losses Tuesday ahead of a key policy decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve later this week. But Japanese stocks moved higher on the back of a softer yen.

The Nikkei was up 1.4% at 1:14 p.m. Tokyo time, recovering from sharp losses posted in the previous session. The Shanghai Composite added 1% and the Hang Seng was up 0.7%. Mumbai's Sensex and Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries were, however, trading flat at the time of writing.

Sentiment turned cautious after U.S. stocks finished Monday's session lower overnight after data showed U.S. pending home sales dropped and as investors eyed Fed's policy decision.

The U.S. central bank is scheduled to begin a two-day policy meeting today and will be annoucing its outcome on Wednesday. Markets are expecting further cues on the future course of the Fed's monetary stimulus program.

Stocks on the Move

In Tokyo, exporters led the charge on the back of a weaker yen. Among the top gainers, car makers Mazda Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., zoomed ahead around 4% each while Sony Corp. rose 3.5%.

Shipping companies and power utilities were among other robust gainers. Tokyo Electric Power vaulted over 7% while Chubu Electric Power bounced 5%.

Marine transporter Kawasaki Kishen Kaisha jumped 6.3% while Nippon Yusen K.K. and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines rallied 4.1% and 3.8% respectively.

On the earnings front, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Corp. climbed 1.1% after posting higher quarterly profit.

Komatsu Ltd. added 1.7% despite disappointing results but Hitachi Construction Machinery dropped over 3% after its results missed estimates. 

In Hong Kong, metal players were mostly lower. Angang Steel lost 0.5% and Jiangxi Copper fell 1.5%.

On the earnings side, Yanzhou Coal Mining plunged more than 7% after it said it expects a loss of 2.35 billion yuan for the first half of 2013.

Wynn Macau Ltd. rallied 3.1% after posting 3% hike in its second-quarter profit.

Among others, property developers and banking firms were trading modestly higher in Hong Kong.

In Mumbai, trading was choppy ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's monetary policy review later today. Top losers included Gail India (-2.1%), Sterlite Industries (-1.8%) and Hindustan Unilever (-1.6%)

On the other side, Jet Airways gained 1.2% after the airline won conditional approval to sell 24% stake to Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways.

In Sydney, a speech by governor Glenn Stevens of the Reserve Bank of Australia was the main focus of investor interest. The governor said that the current inflation environment was no impediment to slashing interest rates further if the need be.

Banks and mining stocks were trading in the green, following RBA's comments. Westpac Banking gained 0.8% while NAB edged up 0.1%.

Among miners, BHP Billiton rose 1.2%, Rio Tinto also tacked on a around a percent while Fortescue Metals Group climbed 1.6%.