Tokyo, Japan (BBN) – Asian markets searched for direction on Tuesday trade following a firm lead on Wall Street, which saw the Dow Jones industrial average close at a record high ahead of the Federal Reserve’s December meeting.
The Nikkei 225 hovered near the flat line, drifting higher to gain 0.01 percent. Gains were seen in trading houses and financials, as automakers and tech stocks traded mixed, reports CNBC.com.
Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi edged down 0.54 percent. Heavyweight tech names rose, but those gains were offset by losses seen in retailers, energy-related stocks and automobile companies. Samsung Electronics was up 0.15 percent and Hyundai Mobis declined 0.97 percent.
Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 tacked on 0.06 percent, with energy stocks climbing 0.75 percent and leading gains on the index following the rise in oil prices. Santos gained 0.4 percent, Oil Search was up 1.16 percent and Woodside rose 1.04 percent.
Shares of ANZ were up 0.77 percent in morning trade following news that the bank would be selling its life insurance business to Zurich Financial Services Australia. ANZ said proceeds of the sale would total 2.85 billion Australian dollars ($2.15 billion).
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.09 percent in early trade, while mainland markets lost some ground. The Shanghai Composite was off 0.31 percent and the Shenzhen Composite was lower by 0.33 percent.
Markets in the region also likely took note of better-than-expected China credit data released Monday. New yuan loans for November came in at 1.12 trillion yuan ($169 billion), above the 800 billion yuan forecast in a Reuters poll, the news agency said.
Investors are focused on the Federal Reserve’s upcoming two-day policy meeting, with its interest rates decision due Wednesday U.S. time. Most are expecting an interest rate hike from the central bank and all eyes will be on FOMC members’ views on the outlook for the U.S. economy.
Ahead of that meeting, U.S. markets on Monday shook off early jitters following a terror incident to end higher ahead of Asia’s Tuesday trading day. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.23 percent, or 56.87 points, to finish at a record close of 24,386.03.
Meanwhile, the dollar was steady against a basket of rivals, with the dollar index at 93.919 at 9:51 a.m. HK/SIN after sliding as low as 93.666 during the Monday session. Against the yen, the greenback was a touch softer at 113.44.
“The firming of the dollar coincides with the reversal in 10-year yields, which started the New York session down over 2 (basis points) and ended the day up 1” basis point, Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy for BK Asset Management, said in a morning note.
The New Zealand dollar held onto gains after getting a boost following a Monday announcement that Adrian Orr would be appointed as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s governor. The Kiwi dollar traded at $0.6916 at 9:52 a.m. HK/SIN, above Monday’s close of $0.6910 and after popping as high as $0.6930 in the last session.
In commodity markets, oil prices resumed their climb after rising to their highest levels in more than two years overnight following news that Britain’s Forties Pipeline would be shut. The pipeline carries around 450,000 barrels a day of Forties crude from offshore fields in the North Sea to a processing plant in Scotland.
US West Texas Intermediate advanced 0.17 percent at $58.09 per barrel after settling higher by 1 percent on Monday. Brent crude futures rose 0.37 percent to $64.94 after rising some 2 percent in the previous session.
SoftBank Group will invest around an additional $500 million in satellite broadband company OneWeb, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing a source. The increase in funds will mean SoftBank’s total investment in OneWeb totals $1.5 billion, the Journal said. Shares of SoftBank were little changed, trading higher by 0.03 percent.
Elsewhere, shares of Toshiba were up 1 percent, outperforming most peers in the tech sector in Japan after the company said it had not come to a consensus over a dispute with Western Digital. On Monday, Argyle Street Management, an activist investor in Toshiba, told the troubled Japanese company it did not have to sell its memory chip arm to a consortium led by Bain, Reuters reported. Argyle made the remarks after Toshiba received a recent cash injection, the news agency added.
Meanwhile, Chinese property developer Country Garden Holdings said it would be withdrawing its application for plans to list a subsidiary on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The company cited a “change in the policies of the approval authorities” in China as the reason for its decision, according to a filing. Country Garden stock was down 0.93 percent in the morning, as were most other Hong Kong-listed property names.