Stocks in Asia-Pacific trade mixed as Japan's exports plunge in August

  • Provisional trade statistics from Japan's Ministry of Finance released Wednesday showed the country's exports in August falling 14.8% as compared to a year ago. That compared against a 16.1% drop expected by economists in a Reuters poll.
  • Apple supplier stocks in the region were watched by investors after the Cupertino-based tech giant on Tuesday announced new devices and services, including a new Apple Watch and two new iPad models.
  • Investor focus was also likely be on the U.S. Federal Reserve, where the FOMC's meeting is scheduled to end Wednesday stateside. The Federal Open Market Committee will give its quarterly update on where it sees GDP, unemployment and inflation going.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday morning trade as investors await the Federal Open Market Committee's quarterly update.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.11% in early trade while the Topix index shed 0.15%.

The moves came after provisional trade statistics from Japan's Ministry of Finance released Wednesday showed the country's exports in August falling 14.8% as compared to a year ago. That compared against a 16.1% drop expected by economists in a Reuters poll.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Kospi hovered above the flatline. Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.37%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.06% higher.

Apple supplier shares mixed

Apple supplier stocks in the region were mixed in Wednesday morning trade.

In Japan, shares of Murata Manufacturing rose 0.26% while Sharp gained 0.3%. South Korea's LG Display, on the other hand, slipped 0.62%.

The moves regionally came after the Cupertino-based tech giant on Tuesday announced new devices and services, including a new Apple Watch and two new iPad models.

Fed watch

Investor focus was also likely on the U.S. Federal Reserve, where the FOMC's meeting is scheduled to end Wednesday stateside. The Federal Open Market Committee will give its quarterly update on where it sees GDP, unemployment and inflation going.

"Wednesday's Federal Reserve monetary policy announcement is the most important event risk on this week's calendar but many investors are wondering how much impact it will have on the US dollar," Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, wrote in a note.

"No changes in monetary policy are expected" from the Fed, Lien said, with the "main focus" on the U.S. central bank's economic projections and its so-called dot plot forecast of interest rate moves.

Ahead of the Fed announcement, the U.S. dollar index — which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers — was at 93.118 after earlier bouncing from levels below 92.9.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 gained 0.5% to close at 3,401.20 while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.2% to end its trading day at 11,190.32. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed just above the flatline at 27,995.60.

Oil prices rise

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asian trading hours, as international benchmark Brent crude futures gained 0.54% to $40.75 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also advanced 0.65% to $38.53 per barrel. 

The Japanese yen traded at 105.31 per dollar following a strengthening seen earlier this week from levels above 106 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7298 after slipping from levels above $0.733 yesterday.

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