Asia markets mixed as traders gear up for BOJ, Fed decisions Wednesday

Teradat Santivivut | Getty Images

Asia markets were mixed on Tuesday, with traders likely taking to the sidelines to await Wednesday's closely watched monetary policy decisions due in the U.S. and Japan.

Stocks in Japan ended mixed, after the market was closed on Monday for a public holiday. The main Nikkei 225 index closed down 27.14 points, or 0.16 percent, at 16,492.15. The Topix index closed up 5.47 points, or 0.42 percent, at 1,316.97.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi climbed 9.93 points, or 0.49 percent, to 2,025.71.

In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 finished up 8.8 points, or 0.17 percent, at 5,303.60, with most sectors gaining. The energy sector, however, bucked the trend to close down 0.93 percent.

The securities market Down Under suffered technical glitches on Monday that first delayed the open, then in the afternoon suspended trade for the rest of the session.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was nearly flat at 23,543.36.

Chinese mainland markets also closed nearly flat, with the Shanghai composite at 3,023.30, while the Shenzhen composite was at 2,000.06.

Analysts attributed the modest market movements to the anticipation surrounding the monetary policy decisions from the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan (BOJ), both due Wednesday.

"Trading ranges on international markets have narrowed over the past couple of sessions," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a morning note.

"Markets appear to have arrived at a level that reflects the consensus view of the balance between risk and reward," he said, adding markets were likely to remain relatively inactive in the lead up to the central banks' policy decisions on Wednesday.

Brokerage firm IG's chief market strategist, Chris Weston, agreed.

"As one can imagine, no one is prepared to take on too much risk," he said in a Tuesday note.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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In the currency market, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 95.634 as of 3:14 p.m. HK/SIN, slipping from levels above 96.00 touched on Friday.

The Japanese yen strengthened to 101.66 against the dollar Tuesday afternoon local time, compared with levels above 102.00 last week.

"We have had a quiet start to what should be a very busy week in the foreign exchange market," Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, said in a early morning note.

"While investors are biding time ahead of Wednesday's Federal Reserve announcement, they are also weary of holding dollars given the unlikely chance of a rate hike this week," said Lien, adding that if the BOJ was to cut rates deeper into negative territory, that could see the yen fall sharply.

Oil prices climbed on Monday, likely helped by a relatively weaker dollar. But prices pulled back on Tuesday and by the afternoon Asia time, U.S. crude futures traded down 0.65 percent at $43.02 a barrel, after finishing up 0.6 percent in the U.S. session.

Global benchmark Brent was down 0.52 percent at $45.71, following a 0.4 percent overnight gain.

OPEC oil producers were set to meet informally next week and the last few weeks saw increased volatility in oil prices amid speculation of a supply freeze deal. But analysts now reckon such a deal would likely not be forthcoming.

"We expect this to be another 'false dawn,' with no change from the Saudi policy of maintaining market share," said Patrick Dennis from Oxford Economics.

"There remains a lack of trust and discipline within OPEC as well as weak barriers to entry, while Saudi aims conflict with any meaningful deal," added Dennis.

In company news, shares of troubled Japanese airbag maker Takata tumbled 11.58 percent following a Bloomberg News report that cited people familiar with the matter as saying some of the company's bidders were considering the possibility of some form of bankruptcy proceedings for Takata.

The company has been caught up in one of the biggest ever recalls in the automotive industry over faulty airbags.

The session in Asia followed a nearly flat close in U.S. equities on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 3.63 points, or 0.02 percent, to 18,120.17. The S&P 500 closed flat at 2,139.12, while the Nasdaq fell 9.54 points, or 0.18 percent, to end at 5,235.03.

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