Asian markets rose on Wednesday as traders awaited a third interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve for this year.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan‘s Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent to 24,033.79. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, which reopened after a holiday, jumped 1.7 percent to 27,968.13. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.9 percent to 2,805.73. Australia‘s S&P ASX 200 gained less than 0.1 percent to 6,187.00. Shares fell in Taiwan but rose in Singapore and Indonesia. Markets were closed in South Korea for a national holiday.
WALL STREET: U.S. benchmarks finished mixed on Tuesday as rising interest rates hurt stocks that pay big dividends. Higher oil prices pulled transportation and shipping companies lower. The S&P 500 index lost 0.1 percent to 2,915.56, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.3 percent to 26,492.21. The Nasdaq composite was 0.2 percent higher at 8,007.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 0.2 percent to 1,708.80.
U.S. INTEREST RATES: On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected raise its benchmark interest rate to between 2-2.25 percent in its ninth increase since late 2015. Another increase is expected later this year, with more to come in 2019. Traders will also be keeping an eye on the Fed’s economic projections and Chairman Jerome Powell’s news conference afterward. Stocks usually do well when the Fed starts to raise interest rates because the higher rates reflect solid economic growth, which is associated with strong company profits. But as the rate increases continue, in line with the Fed’s goal of keeping inflation in check, the effect on stocks can become negative as economic growth slows.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “The market has already priced in a 25 basis points lift to the Fed funds rate. The economic projections and the speech by Chair Fed Powell will be dissected for insights into what the central bank sees in 2019,” Alfonso Esparza of OANDA said in a commentary.
ASIAN OUTLOOK: Closer to home, the Asian Development Bank, a Philippines-based regional lender said Wednesday that trade conflicts, rising debt and rising interest rates in the U.S. will likely dampen Asia’s growth in the coming year. The bank expects economic growth in Asia to remain at a robust 6.0 percent in 2018 but to slip to 5.8 percent next year. China’s economy is expected to expand at a 6.6 percent annual pace this year but slow to 6.3 percent in 2019.
ENERGY: Oil futures fell after rallying on news that a weekend meeting of OPEC and its allies ended without an increase in production. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 13 cents to $72.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 0.3 percent on Tuesday to close at $72.28. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 4 cents to $81.22 per barrel. It settled at $81.26 after climbing to $81.87 per barrel in London, its highest price since November 2014.
CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 112.84 yen from 112.97 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1765 from $1.1766.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed to this report.