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Asia markets trade mixed ahead of Reserve Bank of India policy decision

  • Asian equities were mixed on Wednesday, while markets in China and South Korea remained shut for public holidays
  • The dollar hovered near levels similar to the previous session against a basket of currencies
  • The Reserve Bank of India is expected to announce its monetary policy decision later in the day
Pedestrians are reflected in the window of a securities company showing an electronics stock indicator in Tokyo on October 3, 2017.
Toshifumi Kitamura | AFP | Getty Images
Pedestrians are reflected in the window of a securities company showing an electronics stock indicator in Tokyo on October 3, 2017.

Asia markets traded mixed on Wednesday, even after U.S. equities closed higher overnight.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gave up morning gains of more than 0.2 percent to close nearly flat at 20,626.66. The Topix index wavered between gains and losses to also close nearly flat at 1,684.56.

Fast Retailing shares lost early gains of more than 1 percent to close down 0.79 percent. The initial gains followed reports that said same-store sales at its Uniqlo retail outlets in the country rose 6.3 percent on-year in September.

Meanwhile, shares of Japan Display rose nearly 24 percent following a report from the Nikkei business daily that the company intends to begin mass production of small OLED panels for smartphones as early as 2019.

Its affiliate, JOLED, has plans to begin printing midsize and large OLED panels for industrial equipment and televisions, Nikkei said.

The Japan business daily also said Japan Display began looking for a partner to split its smartphone panel investment, which is expected to be more than $1.77 billion.

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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Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 0.66 percent at 28,358.54 in afternoon trade, with shares of Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD gaining nearly 8 percent.

Singapore's Straits Times index fell 0.37 percent, while India's Nifty 50 was up 0.58 percent.

Singapore-listed shares of SIA Engineering fell 6.07 percent in afternoon trade after reports said JPMorgan was offering a block trade of SIA Engineering shares. The Singapore Exchange filed a query with the company about the share price move.

Australian stocks slipped, with the benchmark ASX 200 falling 49.34 points, or 0.87 percent, to 5,652.1.The energy subindex was down 1.09 percent and the heavily-weighted financial sector fell 0.71 percent.

Major Australian banking stocks were mostly lower, with ANZ shares shedding 2.11 percent, Westpac off 0.87 percent and the National Australia Bank lower by 1.21 percent. Commonwealth Bank shares bucked the downtrend and rose 0.32 percent.

Markets in China and South Korea remain closed for public holidays.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) monetary policy decision was due on Wednesday. Many analysts expect the central bank to stay on hold, keeping the repo rate at 6 percent.

A Reuters poll found that many economists said the central bank may downgrade its growth forecast following the implementation of the new goods and services tax in the country.

"There is pressure on the committee to ease rates, given that the repo rate is at 6 percent versus below 4 percent CPI inflation," said Radhika Rao, an economist at Singapore-based DBS Bank, in a note. "The RBI is, however, unlikely to react this week as besides a gradual rise in inflation, significant changes in the macro backdrop also need to be assessed further."

Meanwhile, economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note that they expect a 25-basis-point rate cut from the RBI in December on "weak growth" and "reasonable 4.5 percent" first half 2018 inflation. The central bank's target inflation range is between 2 and 6 percent.

The Indian rupee will be in focus. The currency was around 65.31 per dollar, compared with levels above 65.8 reached in the previous week.

Elsewhere in the currency market, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 93.367, slipping from yesterday's levels near 93.600.

Meanwhile, the Japanese yen traded at 112.56 per dollar, strengthening from levels near 113.1 in the previous session.

"There wasn't much consistency in the performance of the dollar and while dollar/yen failed to end the day above 113, it also did not experience significant losses," Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy for BK Asset Management, said in an early morning note, referring to overnight moves in the foreign exchange market.

Lien said the dollar's "quiet strength suggests that investors are optimistic and it's hard not to be with stocks hitting fresh record highs Monday and Tuesday."

The Australian dollar, for its part, climbed from levels near $0.78 in the last session to trade at $0.7856 on Wednesday afternoon.

Oil prices traded lower, with U.S. crude down 0.52 percent at $50.16 a barrel. Global benchmark Brent fell 0.39 percent to $55.78.