HONG KONG- Asian markets were mixed early on Wednesday following a strong lead from Wall Street, with investors biding their time as they await the end of a crucial Federal Reserve policy meeting.
With few other trading cues, the main focus is on the Fed meeting, which is expected to see policymakers begin reeling in the bank’s massive stimulus programme.
Tokyo rose 1.81 percent by the break and Shanghai was up 0.11 percent but Hong Kong lost 0.10 percent and Sydney eased 0.12 percent.
Seoul was closed for a public holiday.
While economists tip the Fed to announce a taper of its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying scheme — known as quantitative easing (QE) — the big question is how much it will be cut by.
“Most investors expect some kind of start to the tapering of the central bank’s $85-billion-a-month bond-buying programmes,” Monex market analyst Toshiyuki Kanayama told Dow Jones Newswires.
“A modest paring back is the most likely scenario, but few players are willing to place significant bets in any one direction.”
The market expects a reduction of about $10-$15 billion, said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.
But he added that a larger taper “might cause a little bit of market weakness. Anything else is priced in.”
Global markets have focused intently on the Fed’s plans for its stimulus, which has been credited with fuelling a huge investment spree.
Emerging economies — particularly India and Indonesia — have suffered a flight of foreign cash since Fed boss Ben Bernanke in May said the US economy was showing signs of strength that meant QE could be wound in.
On currency markets, the dollar pushed back against the yen on the expected tapering — which boosts demand for the greenback as there is less cash swirling around financial markets.
The dollar bought 99.27 yen, compared with 99.14 yen in New York in Tuesday, while the euro was at $1.3351 and 132.50 yen against $1.3356 and 132.38 yen.
Asian traders were given a bright lead from Wall Street, where the Dow ended 0.23 percent higher and the S&P 500 added 0.42 percent. The Nasdaq climbed 0.75 percent to its highest close since September 2000.
On oil markets, New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October, rose 18 cents to $105.60 in early morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for November declined 36 cents to $107.83.
Gold was $1,293.25 an ounce at 0210 GMT compared with $1,319.11 late Tuesday.