Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Markets End Mixed Ahead of Fed Meeting

Asian markets closed mostly lower Tuesday, with Japan, South Korea and Australia ending down as investors held back ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve policy-setting meeting that is expected to cut interest rates.

The two-day meeting kicks off later in the day and the Fed is widely expected to cut its target funds rate by at least 25 basis points to 4.5 percent, taking out further insurance against the
U.S. housing slump and credit market problems. At the September meeting, the Fed slashed interest rates by a bold 50 basis points, setting alight global stock markets.

The Nikkei 225 Average snapped a two-day winning streak, dragged 0.3 percent lower by Takeda Pharmaceutical after U.S. health authorities recommended it stop some trials of a key drug, while chip-related issues lost ground on weak September orders. But property stocks such as Mitsubishi Estate provided some support on earnings hopes.

South Korea's KOSPI closed down 0.5 percent, marking their first decline in four sessions, as record oil prices hit fuel-cost
sensitive stocks, while Kookmin Bank fell after giving a bearish 2008 earnings outlook on Monday.

Australian shares fell 0.6 percent, retreating from Monday's record closing peak, as lower base metal prices dragged down miners such as BHP Billiton while St George Bank fell ahead of its full-year earnings.

Singapore's Straits Times Index ended 0.6 percent lower, but shares of Labroy Marine rose after Dubai Drydocks World made a $1.63 billion cash offer to buy the Singapore shipbuilder and oil-rig maker.

Hong Kong stocks reversed opening losses amid strong fund flows and before the expiry of index futures later in the day, with mainland lenders out in front after strong earnings results and broker upgrades. The Hang Seng finished 0.2 percent in the green.

Chinese stocks rose also bucked the negative trend led by banks, as liquidity improved following last week's IPO-related squeeze, and after positive comments about the market by the securities regulator. China Securities Regulatory Commission chairman Shang Fulin told the
People's Daily in an interview that China's capital markets were in a healthy, longer-term upward trend. The Shanghai Composite Index ended 2.6 percent higher.