Most Asian markets up in directionless trading ahead of crucial US Fed meeting

MANILA, Philippines – Most Asian stock markets edged up Tuesday, with some indexes regaining slight losses after opening in directionless trading ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting.

“I think there’s little direction for stocks in Asia,” said Mitul Kotecha, at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.

“It’s a case where all eyes are still on the (Federal Reserve) outcome and at the same time we are approaching the end of the year — volumes are thinning, liquidity is thinning as well — so I think there’s little impetus here for direction,” he added.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1 per cent at 15,300.13. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.4 per cent at 23,205.63. China’s Shanghai’s Composite fell 0.6 per cent at 2,147.06. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 inched up 0.2 per cent at 5,098.20 while New Zealand’s NZSE 50 slid 0.4 per cent at 4,718.85. Markets were also up in Southeast Asia.

On Wall Street, stocks raced higher Monday after two down weeks, as investors warmed up to the idea that the economy is getting better.

Stocks have fallen lately after good economic news as investors worried that the Federal Reserve would think its stimulus was no longer needed. But Monday’s gains, driven by two corporate deals and a strong report on manufacturing, suggested that investors are focused more on growth and less on the central bank’s actions.

The Fed meets in Washington for two days beginning Tuesday, and officials could signal when the Fed will dial back the stimulus that has helped boost the stock market this year.

The Fed’s $85 billion of monthly bond purchases have kept U.S. interest rates low to encourage economic recovery but also sent a flood of money into stock markets worldwide in search of higher returns.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 129 points, or 0.8 per cent, to close at 15,884.57, after rising almost 175 points in the morning. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 11 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 1,786.54. The Nasdaq composite was higher by 28 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 4,029.52.

In energy markets, benchmark crude for January delivery shed 16 cents to $97.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 88 cents to close at $97.48 a barrel on Monday.

The euro rose to $1.3770 from $1.3762 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 103.05 yen from 103.06 yen.