Asian stocks are little changed, awaiting Bank of Japan decision

An Indonesian man looks at the stock exchange share prices board in Jakarta.
An Indonesian man looks at the stock exchange share prices board in Jakarta.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Asian stocks were little changed as investors braced for policy statements on Wednesday (Sept 21) from the Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained less than 0.1 per cent to 138.72 as of 9:02 am in Tokyo.

Japan's Topix index swung in a tight range between gains and losses as the yen traded at 101.64 against the US dollar. The nation's exports fell 9.6 per cent in August, government data showed.

South Korea's Kospi index fell 0.1 per cent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.1 per cent. New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index added 0.2 per cent. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to start trading.

Global markets have oscillated amid an uptick in volatility the past two weeks, with concern mounting that central banks are becoming less committed to stimulus amid persistently mixed economic data. Traders are split over what action the BOJ will take in its review on Wednesday in Tokyo, while bets on an interest-rate increase from the Fed remain around 22 per cent, from over 40 per cent in late August.

"There's some sort of additional measures likely coming from the BOJ and it would be a disappointment if there's none," said Chris Green, the Auckland-based director of economics and strategy at First NZ Capital Group Ltd. "With US data pretty mixed at the moment, there's a lack of consensus among Fed policy makers whether to raise rates. The focus of investors will be on the tone of the Fed statement."

Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index and the Hang Seng Index both added 0.1 percent in their most recent trading. Most Hong Kong stocks fell on thin trading volume on Tuesday, with the Hang Seng Index sliding 0.1 per cent, as casinos and property developers led declines.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index increased 0.1 per cent. The US equity benchmark index rose less than 0.1 per cent on Tuesday, paring earlier gains of as much as 0.6 per cent.