By Gina Lee
Investing.com – Asia Pacific stocks were down on Wednesday morning, as investors await the minutes from the latest U.S. Federal Reserve meeting , alongside other U.S. data. Investors are also weighing the risk that central banks will tighten monetary policy to curb inflation.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.07% by 9:36 PM ET (2:36 AM GMT), with markets re-opening after a holiday. Data released earlier in the day showed that November’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) was 54.2. The data also included the services PMI .
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged down 0.20%.
The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield was around 1.65%, as the prospect of the Fed quickening its asset tapering programs tempered bond market inflation expectations. However, expectations remain elevated.
In regards to the Fed minutes, the key detail that investors should look out for is “discussions around the criteria for quicker asset tapering,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia strategist Carol Kong said in a note.
Inflation trends indicate that the Fed needs to start tightening sooner than presently signaled, the note added.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) hiked interest rates to 0.75% as it handed down its policy decision earlier in the day. The RBNZ move, a bid to curb inflationary pressures, was smaller than expected and the central bank projected 2% benchmark borrowing costs by the end of 2022.
Investors are now looking at whether inflation, which continues to remain at high levels, will prompt other key central banks, including the Fed, to hike interest rates quicker than planned.
“For quite a while now that extra liquidity hasn’t been going into the economy, it has been going more into the markets. The Fed is going to start pulling back on that,” Miller Tabak + Co. chief market strategist Matt Maley told Bloomberg.
The Bank of Korea will release its own policy decision on Thursday. Across the Atlantic, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey will speak at a Cambridge Union event on Thursday.
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