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Asian Stocks Down, Investors Await Japan, U.S. Central Bank Policy Decisions

Stock MarketsApr 26, 2021 10:28PM ET
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By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly down Tuesday morning as investors exercised caution ahead of central bank policy decisions in Japan and the U.S.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged down 0.16% by 10:19 PM ET (2:19 AM GMT), with the Bank of Japan due to hand down its policy decision later in the day.

South Korea’s KOSPI edged down 0.18%, after data released earlier in the day said that the country’s GDP grew 1.6% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter of 2021. Forecasts prepared by had predicted a 1% growth, while GDP grew 1.2% in the fourth quarter of 2020.

In Australia, the ASX 200 fell 0.50% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index inched down 0.09%.

China’s Shanghai Composite was down 0.38% while the Shenzhen Component edged up 0.11%.

Better-than-expected corporate earnings also gave U.S. shares a boost during the previous session. Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Inc.'s shares slipped after trading closed in the U.S., however, as the company's multiyear outlook for growth in deliveries remained unchanged even as it reported better-than-expected profits.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield hovered near its 50-day moving average, although it was below the peaks recorded in March 2021.

The ever-rising number of COVID-19 cases in emerging economies including India and Brazil also remains a concern. Although some investors could be taking profits on equities, sentiment remains positive overall thanks to rising COVID-19 vaccination rates in many countries.

"There are two reasons to remain positive on equities and commodities... the global economy is likely to continue to strengthen and many advanced economies are heading for a reopening due to progress in vaccinations," Sumitomo Mitsui (NYSE:SMFG) Asset Management Co. chief macro strategist Masayuki Kichikawa told Reuters.

The U.S. will release its own GDP on Thursday, which is forecast to show that growth strengthened in the first quarter, bolstered by government stimulus. Biden will also make his first address as president to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

These factors are unlikely to shift the Fed’s current dovish stance, however, as it hands down its policy decision on the same day. Investors widely expect the central bank to keep rates on hold and asset purchases unchanged.

Other investors also remained bullish ahead of the Fed decision.

“I am a bull,” Kramer Capital Research CIO Hilary Kramer told Bloomberg. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell “is going to make sure he keeps rates low, he’s going to lag behind rather than trying to get ahead of inflation,” she added.

Asian Stocks Down, Investors Await Japan, U.S. Central Bank Policy Decisions

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