Asia-Pacific Markets

Japan, Australia Close Lower in Quiet Trading

The Japanese and Australian markets closed lower in the afternoon session Thursday. Trading was quiet with most markets in the region closed for the Labour Day holiday.

Investors were struggling to interpret the decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which cut interest rates by the predicted 25 basis points but failed to deliver an unequivocal statement that the worst was over for the economy.

Regional markets closed mostly lower Wednesday, but China surged nearly 5 percent fueled by
optimism over corporate earnings. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 4.8 percent buoyed by strong earnings by banks. The rally also came after China slashed a stock trading tax last week, which led to a stunning mainland market rise of nearly 10% last Thursday. Elsewhere, South Korea closed higher but Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore ended in the red.

China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are closed for the Labour Day holiday. Most markets will reopen on Friday.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average closed 0.6 percent lower, with bank shares such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and other recent gainers coming under pressure as investors lightened positions ahead of a wave of earnings announcements and national holidays in Japan.

Australian shares eased 0.2 percent as most banking shares fell on nagging worries about the outlook for profits, though the market ended off lows as resource firms recovered after oil and gold prices bounced back.