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Asia markets close mixed as oil extends gains; Fed awaited

  • Oil prices extended gains after rising more than 3 percent overnight
  • The dollar index trod water after recovering slightly from a 13-month low overnight
  • Corporate earnings drove market moves in the region, with Mitsubishi Motor beating expectations and driving shares up more than 5 percent

Stocks in Asia closed mixed on Wednesday as oil prices extended gains and the dollar was treading water ahead of the end of the Federal Open Market Committee's two-day meeting.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.48 percent, or 94.96 points, to close at 20,050.16 as shares of Japanese automakers contributed to gains after Mitsubishi Motors beat earnings expectations.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index erased gains made early in the trading session to close lower by 0.22 percent, or 5.39 points, at 2,434.51.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.87 percent, or 50.003 points, to end at 5,776.6, driven by solid gains in the energy and materials sub-indexes which were up 2.94 percent and 2.08 percent respectively.

Greater China markets were mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 0.29 percent by 3:09 p.m. HK/SIN. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite finished the session higher by 0.12 percent, or 3.8940 points, at 3,247.5834, after dipping below the flat line earlier in the session. The Shenzhen Composite slid 0.296 percent, or 5.4691 points, to close at 1,843.1231.

The MSCI Asia Pacific ex Japan index was mostly flat, tracking lower by 0.03 percent at 3:15 p.m. HK/SIN.

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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Ahead, investors anticipated the end of the FOMC's two-day meeting Wednesday U.S. time for signals about the Federal Reserve's monetary policy plans.

Markets had priced in zero chance of a rate hike from the Federal Reserve this month, CMC Markets market analyst Margaret Yang told CNBC, although investors will look to the central bank's statement for potential signs confirming the shrinking of its balance sheet.

The dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of currencies, edged up to trade at 94.203 at 2:59 p.m. HK/SIN after recovering slightly in the overnight session from a 13-month low. Against the Japanese currency, the dollar fetched 111.81 yen, compared to levels around the 111.1 handle seen earlier this week.

While currency markets awaited the Federal Reserve's interest rate decision, corporate earnings dominated sentiment in regional equity markets, Yang said.

In corporate news, Japan's Toshiba was in the spotlight after the company's board announced it would meet with other bidders on Wednesday, Reuters said. Western Digital and Foxconn were among the companies from which Toshiba will be reviewing offers, a source told Reuters.

Toshiba announced in June that a consortium led by the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan was the company's preferred bidder for the sale of its chip unit. However, the company has been unable to secure an agreement with the INCJ-led group. Toshiba shares closed up 6.29 percent.

Also in Japan, shares of Mitsubishi Motor gained 7 percent on the back of better-than-expected first quarter profits released Tuesday. The automaker recorded operating profits of 20.6 billion yen ($185.2 million) compared to an estimate of 15.10 billion yen, Reuters said. Mitsubishi shares closed 4.46 percent higher.

Also beating analyst expectations was video game company Nintendo. The company reported operating profits of 16.21 billion yen ($144.95 million) for the quarter through June after the market close, beating a Thomson Reuters Starmine forecast of 11.55 billion yen, Reuters said.

South Korea's LG Display also reported second-quarter profits Tuesday after the market close. The company recorded operating profits of 804 billion won ($721 million) compared to 44.4 billion won from one year ago. LG Display share were off 1.22 percent at the close.

Hong Kong-listed property stocks were once again responsible for moves in the markets, with Sunac China Holdings gaining 3.98 percent after being sold off in the previous session. Sunac shares fell around 7 percent on Tuesday after the property developer said it was raising $516.4 million in a share sale.

Other property stocks linked to an asset disposal deal involving Dalian Wanda also trended higher. Dalian Wanda Hotel Development rose 5.06 percent and Guangzhou R&F edged up 0.3 percent at 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN.

Meanwhile, shares of China Evergrande Group rallied after the company announced in a filing on Tuesday that it was expecting its unaudited net profit to be triple the amount recorded one year ago. Evergrande shares were last up 11.75 percent.

Gaming stocks listed in Hong Kong were in the doldrums, with Wynn Macau leading the losses. While second-quarter revenues in Macau rose on year, the company's parent Wynn Resorts acknowledged soft mass market performance in Macau on Tuesday.

Wynn Macau shares were down 3.67 percent following the news. Other Hong Kong-listed gaming stocks also trended lower, with Galaxy Entertainment down 1.98 percent and Melco International Development falling 2.15 percent.

Asian corporates reporting earnings today include South Korea's Hyundai Motors, as well as Japan's Line.

Oil prices extended gains after soaring more than 3 percent overnight on news that major U.S. oil producer Anadarko had announced plans to reduce capital spending due to lower oil prices. Market sentiment was also boosted when de-facto OPEC leader Saudi Arabia said it would limit its crude exports in a bid to tackle oversupply.

Brent crude rose 0.74 percent to trade at $50.57 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.98 percent to trade at $48.36.

Despite the positive sentiment buoying oil prices, Wood Mackenzie noted that rebalancing was likely to be threatened in 2017 and 2018 due to greater volumes in the market. OPEC was likely to extend production cuts to the end of 2018 to "avoid calamity," Wood Mackenzie chief analyst Simon Flowers added in a note.

"Recognizing the downside risks for the next two years, on July 10 we lowered our price forecasts by $2.50 a barrel for each of the next two years to $51 a barrel in 2017 and $50 a barrel in 2018 ... Lower-for-longer is becoming a reality," Flowers said.

In currencies, the euro gave up some gains after breaching the $1.17 level overnight — its strongest levels since August 2015, according to Reuters. The euro traded at $1.1636 at 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN.

Over in Australia, second-quarter CPI rose 1.9 percent on year compared to the 2.2 percent expected, Reuters said. Consumer prices rose 0.2 percent compared to the previous quarter — below the 0.4 percent forecast.

The Aussie dollar tumbled to trade at $0.7900 on the news, compared to levels around the $0.793 handle seen earlier in the session. The currency last traded at $0.7891.

In Singapore, industrial production for the month of June rose 13.1 percent on year, higher than a Reuters forecast of a 7.6 percent increase, the news agency reported.

Stateside, major U.S. indexes closed higher on Tuesday after several large companies, including Caterpillar and McDonald's, announced quarterly results that beat analyst expectations.