Asian Shares Drop as Eyes Turn to Central Bank Meetings

TOKYO (AP) -
A man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Asian stocks mostly fell Wednesday after a muted market response to the Trump-Kim summit. Investors have now turned their eyes to the trio of this week’s central bank meetings.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was up 0.4 percent to finish at 22,966.38. South Korea’s Kospi was down by less than 0.1 percent at 2,468.83. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and the Shanghai Composite index both dropped 1.0 percent, the Hang Seng to 30,784.90 and the Shanghai Composite to 30,784.90. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 also dropped 0.5 percent to 6,023.50.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.85 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,786.85, closing at its highest level since February 1. The Nasdaq composite added 43.87 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,703.79 and the Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.58 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 25,320.73. The Russell 2000, an index that makes up mostly small companies, rose 7.62 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,682.30.

The Federal Reserve resumes a two-day meeting on interest rates later Wednesday. Investors expect the central bank to raise its benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point to a range of 1.75-2 percent. However, investors’ attention will focus more on how many additional rate hikes Fed officials may do this year. On Thursday, the European Central Bank will meet and could outline an end to its stimulus program, while on Friday the Bank of Japan is due to give its latest policy update.

“Fed are the ones that could surprise on the hawkish side which should support a stronger U.S. dollar versus EUR, AUD and JPY,” said Stephen Innes, analyst at Oanda.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 39 cents to $65.98 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 31 cents to $75.57 per barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 110.56 yen from 110.30 late Tuesday in Asia. The euro fell slightly to $1.17 from $17.99.