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Asian stocks flat as investors in 'wait n watch' mode

Fed expected to announce a faster end to its bond buying campaign and may signal a rate hike in 2022 amid rising inflationary pressure, while the majority expects that it would hold rates citing the possible challenges due to the new Covid variant, commentary on tapering, inflation and growth would be critical

Asian stocks flat as investors in ‘wait n watch’ mode

Asian stocks flat as investors in ‘wait n watch’ mode

Bangkok: Stocks were mixed in Asia on Wednesday after new US data showed inflation is still running high, putting a spotlight on what action the Federal Reserve will take as it holds its last meeting of the year.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index was nearly unchanged at 28,429.93 and the Kospi in Seoul shed 0.3per cent to 2,978.10. In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 gave up 0.5per cent to 7,343.20. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.2per cent, while the Shanghai Composite index edged 0.1per cent higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury was steady at 1.44 per cent. China reported its retail sales slowed in November, rising 3.9 per cent from a year earlier compared with a 4.9 per cent increase in October. Industrial production picked up slightly, growing 3.8per cent from a year earlier compared with October's 3.5per cent.

"Covid-19 remained the key reason holding back a full recovery. Efforts to contain the virus flare-up beginning in mid-October lasted through most of November as infections reached 21 provinces, making consumers more cautious," Mark Williams and Sheana Yue of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

World stocks were in wait-and-watch mode ahead of a crucial US Fed policy decision where it is expected to announce a faster tapering of its massive bond buying program to control inflationary pressures.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai and Hong Kong ended with losses, while Tokyo and Seoul were positive. Stock exchanges in Europe were also trading on a mixed note in mid-session deals.

A second omicron case was reported confirmed in China on Wednesday, underscoring the persisting threat from infections as new coronavirus variants emerge. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 index fell 0.7per cent to 4,634.09. It set an all-time high on Friday, when it closed out its biggest weekly gain since February. The index is up 23.4per cent so far this year. The Dow dropped 0.3per cent to 35,544.18. The Nasdaq fell 1.1per cent to 15,237.64. The Russell 2000 gave up 1per cent to 2,159.65.

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