April 30, 2019
By Andrew Galbraith
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Shares in Asia fell on Tuesday despite another record high close for the S&P 500, as investors await a U.S. Federal Reserve policy decision for clues of whether it will continue to take a “patient” approach to interest rate policy.
Traders were also cautious ahead of readings on China’s factory activity (0100 GMT), hoping for more signs that the world’s second-largest economy is starting to stabilize in response to a flurry of stimulus measures.
MSCI’s broadest gauge of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was off 0.1 percent, weighed by weakness in Korean shares, which fell 0.4 percent.
Australian equities fell 0.3 percent, while New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3 percent.
Japan’s financial markets remain closed for a national holiday as Japanese Emperor Akihito prepares to abdicate on Tuesday in favor of his elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito.
Asia’s wobbly open followed cautious gains on Wall Street overnight that nevertheless lifted the S&P 500 index to an intraday record high of 2,949.52. The index finished up 0.11 percent at a record closing high of 2,943.03.
The Nasdaq gained 0.19 percent to 8,161.85, also a record closing high, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a 0.04 percent gain to 26,554.39.
The quiet start to the week in global equity markets comes ahead of a two-day meeting of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee. The committee is set to release its latest statement at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on Wednesday.
The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, as it seeks to balance robust economic growth against low inflation.
In the latest slew of data sending mixed signals to the Fed, U.S. consumer spending rose at the fastest pace in more than 9-1/2 years in March, but core personal consumption expenditures (PCE), the bank’s favored inflation measure, logged its smallest annual rise in 14 months.
“We expect the dovish tone from central banks to continue for the foreseeable future. Given evidence of a recovery in growth, this is very positive for risk assets,” analysts at ANZ said in a morning note.
Investors will also be watching manufacturing data in China, which is expected to show a steady but modest expansion in activity for April.
The yield on benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury notes retreated to 2.527 percent as of 2330 GMT Tuesday after rising to a close of 2.536 percent Tuesday on the strong consumer spending data.
The two-year yield, watched as a gauge of expectations of rate rises, was at 2.2942 percent, off from a U.S. close Tuesday of 2.298 percent.
Currency markets remained quiet. The dollar was barely changed against the yen at 111.65, and the euro was flat at $1.1185. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was also unchanged, holding at 97.852.
(Graphic: Asian stock markets: https://tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4).
Oil prices turned lower, after edging higher on Monday as markets attempted to resume a rally interrupted by demands from U.S. President Donald Trump that OPEC raise output.
U.S. crude fell 0.14 percent to $63.41 per barrel and Brent crude was down 0.4 percent at $71.75 per barrel.
Gold showed some luster after dipping Tuesday on the U.S. data. Spot gold was up 0.13 percent at $1,281.19 per ounce.
(Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Kim Coghill)