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Asian stocks close mixed after Wall Street slump

  • Asian stocks closed mixed lower following the overnight declines on Wall Street, which saw tech shares tumble.
  • Markets are focused on the Federal Reserve's upcoming policy meeting.
  • The dollar index was mostly steady ahead of the FOMC meeting later in the day.

Asian markets closed mixed on Tuesday, as investors digested the overnight pullback on Wall Street and awaited the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.47 percent, or 99.93 points, to close at 21,380.97, tracking declines seen stateside, but paring some of the more than 200-point losses seen earlier.

Tuesday's move lower also marked the third straight decline for the benchmark, extending its decline in the last session on the back of an ongoing political scandal that's hurting public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The broader Topix index edged lower by 0.21 percent as banks, trading houses and automakers notched gains.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
---
HSI
---
ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
---
KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Elsewhere, Seoul's benchmark Kospi reversed losses to close up 0.42 percent at 2,485.52. Heavyweight tech names were mixed following the slump in tech names stateside overnight, with Samsung Electronics rising 0.91 percent. Among major sectors, automakers and manufacturing names also recorded gains.

Steelmakers traded mixed following news from Yonhap News Agency that South Korea is requesting for an exemption from recently announced U.S. steel tariffs. Posco closed lower by 0.73 percent while Hyundai Steel rose 1.18 percent.

The Hang Seng Index tacked on 0.12 percent by 3:08 p.m. HK/SIN as gains in technology and consumer goods names were partially offset by losses in financials.

On the mainland, the Shanghai composite edged up 0.34 percent to close at 3,290.46 and the Shenzhen composite added 0.23 percent to end at 1,872.33.

Meanwhile, Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 slipped by 0.39 percent to end at 5,936.40. Losses were led by the 1.35 percent fall in materials stocks. The heavily weighted financials subindex held just above the flat line, adding 0.05 percent.

"Amid ongoing concerns with regards to the U.S. administration as well as the potential for heightened global trade tensions, expect investor sentiment to remain fragile intraday and ahead of the FOMC," Emmanuel Ng, an economist at OCBC Bank, said in a note.

Stocks stateside closed lower on Monday, with losses led by the Nasdaq composite's 1.84 percent fall.

The index recorded its worst day since Feb. 8 as Facebook sank 6.8 percent on the back of a scandal involving data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica accessed the data of 50 million Facebook users without their permission, reports said.

Fed meeting ahead

Ahead, markets are focused on a two-day Federal Open Market Committee policy meeting that begins on Tuesday U.S. time. The Federal Reserve is expected to hike interest rates for the first time in 2018 at the end of that meeting.

The probability of a 25 basis point interest rate hike on Wednesday stood at 91.6 percent, according to the CME Group's FedWatch Tool on Tuesday Asia time.

Despite that, the dollar was mostly steady, with the dollar index standing at 89.879 by 2:50 p.m. HK/SIN, near its overnight low of 89.872 and below levels around the 90 handle seen at the end of last week.

That came as sterling firmed after the U.K. and the European Union reached an agreement on the transition period before the former exits the bloc.

Meanwhile, the euro strengthened following news from Reuters that the European Central Bank was steadily focusing more on discussion on future interest rates.

Both currencies slightly extended overnight gains, with the common currency trading at $1.2341 and the pound at $1.4037.

In individual stocks, Singapore-listed commodities trader Noble Group fell 6.31 percent by 2:51 p.m. HK/SIN. The move lower extended losses seen in the last session after the company said it would not be able to pay $379 million in debt notes due in 2018, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Sunny Optical Technology popped 8.63 percent ahead of the market close after the Apple supplier reported net profit for the year ending Dec. 31 rose 128 percent.