Asian markets tracked Wall Street lower Tuesday after mixed signals from Federal Reserve officials left investors guessing about the central bank's next policy move.
Overnight, U.S. stocks dropped, led by financials, as markets stayed glued to speeches by Fed officials, which sent conflicting signals about the central bank's tapering plans.
While New York Fed president William Dudley said that the U.S. economy was not strong enough yet to support tapering the quantitative easing programs, Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart said the unemployment rate does not fully capture problems in the labour market, and economic policies need to be such that they revive dynamism in the labor market.
Those remarks left investors confused about the Fed's future policy stance, and they opted to pull out of equities, and move to more safer havens like the Japanese yen. The yen grew stronger against the U.S. dollar and was trading around 98.76 per dollar at the time of writing.
Among the Asian bourses, the Nikkei lost 0.8% at 12:32 p.m as investors returned to market after a public holiday on Monday. The Shanghai Composite retreated 1% and the Hang Seng erased 1.1%. Mumbai's Sensex lost 0.4% while Sydney's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries eased 0.5%.
Stocks on the Move
Tokyo-listed exporters were under pressure on account of a stronger yen. Sony Corp. erased over 2% while Canon Inc. was also down by about the same amount.
Some tech players, however, were on the upside after Apple Inc. soared 5% overnight as the company sold a record 9 million iphones over the weekend.
Murata Manufacturing gained 1.5% while Japan Aviation Electronics bounced 2.6%.
In Hong Kong, property developers dug deeper while resources added to the losses.
China Resources Land Ltd. plunged 3.2%, Sun Hung Kai Properties fell around 2% and New World Development Corp. lost 1.8%.
Shanghai-listed Gemdale Corp. retreated 2.7% while Poly Real Estate Group tumbled 3.4%.
Among metal players, Angang Steel, Jiangxi Copper and Aluminum Corp. of China all were off by around 1.5% each.
Banking stocks in Mumbai extended losses in a choppy session, with top loser on the 30-share benchmark index, state-run SBI losing 2.4%. Private lenders, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank, eased 0.3% and 0.2% respectively.
Among Sydney-listed financials, NAB was down 0.9% while Westpac erased 0.5%. ANZ was flat.
Miners were listless too -- BHP Billiton lost 0.7% and Rio Tinto gave up 1%.