Asian stocks mixed ahead of possible Fed guidance

Aug 25, 2021, 11:49 PM | Updated: Aug 26, 2021, 9:56 pm

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Friday as investors awaited more guidance on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s easing plans.

The moves in Asia follow a pullback on Wall Street after the deadly attacks on Afghan civilians and U.S. troops at the Kabul airport on Thursday.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.3% to 27,651.51 while the Kospi in South Korea added 0.3% to 3,139.00. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was 0.6% higher at 25,559.56.

The Shanghai Composite advanced 0.4% to 3,516.13. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.1% to 7,480.80. Benchmarks in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia rose while Singapore slipped.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak at the central bank’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later Friday. Any indicators when the bank will start scaling back on asset purchases will be watched.

Several Fed officials have suggested that the easing will take place sooner rather than later, although a firm timeline has not been set.

“Despite the ‘risk on’ mood heading into Jackson Hole, which arguably points to an accommodative enough Fed tilt to keep markets buoyed, thin trading in the U.S. bond markets this week suggests latent caution,” Hayaki Narita at Mizuho Bank said in a report.

“As overrated as Jackson Hole’s significance may be, there is no denying that the quest for policy clarity will only gain momentum,” he added.

Investors are set for a new and busy week of economic releases, including U.S. jobs data for August and flash eurozone inflation figures. India, Australia and Canada will also report their second quarter economic growth.

“If the speech turns out to be a non-event, the follow-up market risk event will be the jobs report next week, which will provide more concrete data in steering the timeline of tapering ahead,” Yeap Jun Rong at IG said.

Wall Street indexes fell on Thursday after two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the desperate crowds trying to flee Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. President Joe Biden said the latest bloodshed would not drive the U.S. out of Afghanistan earlier than scheduled, and that he had instructed the U.S. military to develop plans to strike the Islamic State militant group, which claimed responsibility.

Technology and communication companies led the broad sell-off, with 10 of the 11 sectors in the S&P 500 closing lower. The benchmark fell 0.6% to 4,470 and broke its five-day winning streak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 0.5% to 35,213.12 and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.6% to 14,945.81. The three major indexes are still on track for weekly gains.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude picked up 44 cents to $67.86 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used as the price basis for international oils, added 50 cents to $71.57.

The dollar fell to 109.99 yen from Thursday’s 110.06 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1754 from $1.1759.

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Asian stocks mixed ahead of possible Fed guidance