Asian Stocks Mixed as Markets Await Fed Decision

Asian stocks saw a mixed performance on Wednesday as investors awaited the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates. Meanwhile, China reported that its manufacturing sector contracted for the fourth consecutive month in January.

Japan’s Nikkei 225

Japan’s Nikkei 225 saw a 0.6% increase, reaching 36,286.71.

South Korea’s Kospi

South Korea’s Kospi, however, experienced a slight decline of 0.1%, falling to 2,497.09. This followed Samsung Electronics’ report of a 34% decline in operating profit for the last quarter.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sank by 1.2% to 15,485.07, while the Shanghai Composite shed 1.4% and reached 2,788.55.

China’s Manufacturing PMI

Official data revealed that China’s manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 49.2 in January from December’s 49.0. Despite this improvement, the figure remains below the critical 50 mark, indicating contraction instead of expansion. Weak demand within the world’s second-largest economy continues to impact overall growth.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200, on the other hand, rose by 1% and reached 7,680.70. This rise followed a survey that showed a drop in the country’s inflation rate to a two-year low in the December quarter, with the consumer price index at 4.1%. This has led to speculation that the Reserve Bank may consider an interest rate cut in the near future.

India’s Sensex and Bangkok’s SET

India’s Sensex experienced a 0.6% increase, while Bangkok’s SET fell by 0.8%.

In Wall Street, U.S. stocks remained steady and near their record levels after a mixed set of profit reports.

The Federal Reserve has started its latest policy meeting on interest rates. While it is not expected to cut rates this time, economists and traders will closely analyze the Fed’s statements for any indications of a possible rate cut in its next meeting in March.

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