TOKYO – Asian stock markets were mostly lower Tuesday after Japan kept its monetary policy unchanged ahead of a much anticipated U.S. Federal Reserve decision later this week on whether to raise interest rates.
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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.3 percent to 18,026.48 and South Korea's Kospi edged 0.3 percent higher to 1,937.56. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4 percent to 21,479.34. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 1.5 percent to 5,018.40 after the country's prime minister was ousted in an internal party revolt. China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.9 percent to 3,025.37. Shares were also lower in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and New Zealand.
BANK OF JAPAN: Japan's central bank issued a statement saying it had not changed its policy calling for 80 trillion yen ($666 billion) in annual asset purchases by the central bank, to help spur inflation and stimulate growth. A small minority of experts had speculated the BOJ could spring a surprise increase in its asset purchases to combat recent recurring signs the recovery is faltering. The central bank said the economy was still in a "moderate recovery," but said exports and production were affected by slowing growth in emerging markets.
ANALYST'S VIEW: "The Bank of Japan's more cautious assessment of economic conditions suggests that policymakers will announce additional monetary stimulus before too long," Marcel Thieliant, Japan economist at Capital Economics, said in a research note.
FEDERAL RESERVE: Trading has been light as investors looked ahead to the Federal Open Market Committee meeting later this week. Opinions are split over whether the Fed will raise its benchmark interest rate at the end of its two-day meeting on Thursday, given China's slower economy and recent turbulence in financial markets.
WALL STREET: Major U.S. indexes opened higher Monday and then sank slowly through the rest of the day. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 8.02 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 1,953.03 and the Dow Jones industrial average gave up 62.13 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,370.96.
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ENERGY: U.S. crude fell gained 23 cents to $44.23 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 63 cents to close at $44 a barrel on Monday. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils, gained 7 cents to $48.32. It lost $1.77 on Monday to close at $46.25 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 119.99 yen from 120.30 yen late Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.1317 from $1.1309.
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