Asia Stocks Slip From Two-Month High as Investors Await Fed, BOJ

  • Investors betting U.S. central bank won't raise interest rates
  • Low equity trading volumes across most markets on Tuesday

Asian stocks fell amid low trading volumes, with the regional benchmark index retreating from its highest level in two months as energy shares led losses and investors awaited policy decisions by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan later in the week.

Japanese markets bore the brunt of the selling, with the Topix Index losing 1 percent, the most in two weeks. Energy explorer Inpex Corp. lost 3.1 percent in Tokyo after crude oil dropped below $44 dollars a barrel. Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. gained 3.1 percent in Sydney after the homeware supplier said sales surged last month.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.4 percent to 135.84 at 4:44 p.m. in Hong Kong after closing Monday at the highest since Aug. 18. The decisions on monetary policy come after China cut its lending rate last week and European officials signaled a willingness to add stimulus to combat flagging growth. The odds the Fed will raise rates at the end of their two-day policy meeting on Wednesday are slim, with traders seeing a 6 percent chance. Economists are divided on whether the BOJ will supplement already unprecedented easing on Friday.

“Asian markets are clearly unwilling to rally past the recent highs ahead of the Fed and Bank of Japan meetings,” said Angus Nicholson, an analyst at IG Markets Ltd. in Melbourne. “Volumes were down dramatically across the region. Traders are largely sitting on the sidelines at the moment.”

South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.2 percent and India’s S&P BSE Sensex Index lost 0.4 percent. Singapore’s Straits Times Index dropped 1 percent and Taiwan’s Taiex Index slid 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed and New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index added 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.1 percent, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland-listed companies dropped 0.3 percent.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index staged a late rally to close 0.1 percent higher after dropping as much as 2.8 percent. The nation’s leaders are meeting this week to map out a five-year plan for the world’s second-largest economy. The Shanghai gauge rebounded 17 percent from this year’s low on Aug. 26 through Monday as the government took measures to stabilize the stock market after a $5 trillion rout and policy makers introduced more measures to boost growth amid the slowest economic expansion in a quarter of a century.

While Mark Mobius is convinced that China’s push into technology, consumer and service industries will produce a more sustainable expansion, he’s not so sure it’s going to work out for equity investors.

‘New Economy’

The chairman of Franklin Templeton’s emerging-markets group predicts China’s “new economy” sectors will drive growth as the nation weans itself from a reliance on credit-fueled investment. The problem, Mobius says, is that many stock valuations already reflect a successful transition.

Chinese industrial companies’ profit fell 0.1 percent in September from a year before, less than the 8.8 percent slide in August. Earnings slipped 1.7 percent through the first nine months of 2015, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Tuesday. China’s official 6.9 percent year-on-year print for third-quarter growth is at odds with non-official models that estimate growth was as slow as 2.8 percent, Bloomberg economists Tom Orlik and Fielding Chen wrote.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 0.2 percent. The underlying gauge of U.S. equities slipped 0.2 percent on Monday, dropping for the first time in three days, as investors assessed recent gains before the latest batch of earnings.

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