Asian stocks cautiously higher ahead of Fed meeting

  • Stock Market News
Asian stocks cautiously higher ahead of Fed meeting

By Ambar Warrick -- Most Asian stock markets rose on Wednesday tracking overnight gains on Wall Street, with traders now awaiting more cues on U.S. monetary policy from a Federal Reserve meeting later in the day.

Regional stocks took positive cues from a strong overnight session on Wall Street following a slew of better-than-expected quarterly earnings. Data showing a slower-than-expected increase in U.S. labor costs also propped up expectations that inflation will ease further in the coming months.

But mixed Chinese manufacturing data, coupled with fears of a hawkish outlook from the Fed, kept gains in regional stocks muted. China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes lagged their peers for the day as a private survey showed that the country’s manufacturing sector contracted in January despite the easing of anti-COVID restrictions.

The reading contrasted with government data released earlier this week, and showed that smaller businesses were still struggling with weak demand and rising COVID-19 cases.

Indian stocks were among the best performers for the day, with the Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex 30 indexes rising 0.8% each on a recovery in bank and industrial stocks.

Concerns over a recent short-seller report on the conglomerate Adani Group appeared to have somewhat eased after a secondary share offering by its flagship firm, Adani Enterprises Ltd (NS: ADEL ), was fully subscribed by investors.

But shares of the firm, coupled with most other listed entities under Adani, fell between 1% and 10% on Wednesday.

Indian markets are also awaiting the unveiling of the 2023 Union Budget , due later in the day, with investors holding out for tax cuts.

Risk-heavy Southeast Asian markets also advanced on Wednesday, with Philippine shares outperforming their peers with a 0.9% bounce. Technology-heavy bourses also bounced back from sharp losses this week, with the Hang Seng , KOSPI , and Taiwan Weighted indexes rising between 0.5% and 1%.

Still, broader gains were limited as markets awaited the Fed meeting. While the central bank is widely expected to hike rates by 25 basis points, any commentary from Fed Chair Jerome Powell on U.S. monetary policy will be closely watched.

Japan's Nikkei 225 also lagged its Asian peers, rising only 0.1% after data showed that the country's manufacturing sector contracted further in January.

Markets are also awaiting a string of earnings from major Asian firms over the next few weeks.

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