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Asian Equities Close Mixed as Investors Await Fed’s Monetarry Policy Decision

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks ended mixed on Monday as investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve’s highly anticipated monetary policy decision due later in the week as well as new Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s first press conference for directional cues.

China’s S
hanghai Composite index rose 0.29 percent to 3,279.25 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was marginally higher in late trade after Chinese President Xi Jinping was re-elected unanimously to the post over the weekend by the country’s legislature.

Japanese shares closed lower after an opinion poll showed Prime Minister Abe’s support falling to its lowest since he took office in 2012.

The Nikkei average fell 195.61 points or 0.90 percent to 21,480.90, its lowest close since March 9, while the broader Topix index closed 0.96 percent lower at 1,719.97. Exporters, banks and brokerages paced the decliners.

Investors ignored preliminary figures from the Ministry of Finance showing that Japan’s exports and imports grew more-than-expected in February. The value of exports climbed 1.8 percent year-over-year in February, faster than the 1.4 percent rise economists had forecast.

Imports surged 16.5 percent in February from a year ago, just above the expected spike of 16.0 percent. As a result, the overall trade surplus declined notably to JPY 3.4 billion in February from JPY 804.5 billion in the same month of 2017.

Australian shares ended a choppy session higher even as banks extended recent losses ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting this week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 10 points or 0.17 percent to 5,959.40 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 9.80 points or 0.16 percent at 6,064.70.

Banks Commonwealth and NAB as well as retailer Wesfarmers shed around 0.6 percent each. Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto eked out modest gains, while energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum and Santos climbed 2-3 percent.

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Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.