Asia Markets

Asia stocks slip ahead of Fed interest rate decision

Key Points
  • Stocks in Asia declined on Wednesday.
  • Investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates.
  • The Fed is largely expected to slash interest rates by 25 basis points later this week. That would mark its third rate cut for this year. 

Stocks in Asia fell on Wednesday ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate decision, set to be announced later stateside.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.57% to close at 22,843.12 while the Topix index finished its trading day 0.19% higher at 1,665.90. An earlier data release on Wednesday showed Japanese retail sales in September surged 9.1% as compared to a year earlier, above expectations of a 6.9% increase from a Reuters poll. The jump in retail sales came ahead of a tax hike that went into effect on October 1.

South Korea's Kospi closed 0.59% lower at 2,080.27 as shares of Samsung Electronics fell 1.37% ahead of the industry heavyweight's earnings release.

Mainland Chinese shares finished their trading day lower, with the Shanghai composite slipping 0.5% to around 2,939.32 and the Shenzhen component shedding 0.66% to 9,681.54. The Shenzhen composite also fell 0.856% to approximately 1,628.62.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 0.48%, as of its final hour of trading. Hong Kong-listed shares of Standard Chartered, however, jumped more than 2% after the British lender announced its third quarter pre-tax profits soared 16% year-on-year.

Meanwhile, Australian shares declined on the day as the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.83% to 6,689.50. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed Wednesday that the consumer price index for the September quarter rose 0.5%, as compared to a 0.6% increase in the previous quarter.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.26% lower.

The Fed is largely expected to slash interest rates by 25 basis points later this week. That would mark its third rate cut for this year.

Ahead of the Fed decision, the U.S. dollar index which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers was last at 97.643 after scaling highs above 97.8 yesterday.

"With Fed fund futures showing a 94% chance of a cut, the performance of the dollar confirms that investors expect this to be the central bank's last move of the year," Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, wrote in an overnight note.

Developments on the U.S.-China trade front will also be monitored. Reuters reported Tuesday that the phase one trade deal may not be signed at a November summit in Chile. The report, however, cited a U.S. administration official who said: "If it's not signed in Chile, that doesn't mean that it falls apart. It just means that it's not ready."

"We don't know for sure even whether they're going to remove tariffs from China or just maybe just defer some of the tariffs that've been imposed. And China's perhaps just going to buy the stuff they were gonna buy anyway," Rob Carnell, chief economist and Asia-Pacific head of research at ING, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 touched a fresh record high before ending the session 0.1% lower at 3,036.89. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 19.30 points lower at 27,071.42 while the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.6% to end its trading day at 8,276.85.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.83 against the dollar after strengthening from levels above 108.9 yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.6872 seeing an earlier low of $0.6846.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asian trading hours. The international benchmark Brent crude futures contract was 0.18% lower at $61.48 per barrel. U.S. crude futures slipped 0.36% to $55.34 per barrel.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.