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Stock market today: Asian shares decline ahead of Fed decision on rates

Stock market today: Asian shares decline ahead of Fed decision on rates

Wall Street ticked higher early Wednesday ahead of a decision on interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

Futures for the both the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials were up about 0.2% before the bell.

The Fed gathered Tuesday for a two-day meeting on interest rates and will announce a policy decision later Wednesday. The Fed is largely expected to keep its benchmark rate where it is, around 5.3%, a more than two-decade high.

There is a wider split on the thinking about whether the Fed will raise rates again this year, but most anticipate that rates will begin to be trimmed at some point next year. Cutting rates can infuse markets with oxygen, which is part of the reason why the Fed has maintained elevated rates. Fed Chair Jerome Powell is seeking to slow frothy investments and cool a red-hot job market in an effort to get inflation under control.

Yet the broader U.S. economy, and in particular the job market, continue to held up much better than expected despite rising rates and inflation, which remains elevated.

In off-hours equities trading, Pinterest jumped 4% after the company said at its investors day that it expected revenue growth to accelerate in the coming years.

Shares of luxury beauty and fragrance company Coty climbed nearly 5% before the bell after it raised its full-year earnings forecast.

KB Home and FedEx issue their latest financial results after markets close Wednesday.

At midday in Europe, France’s CAC 40 gained 0.4% and Germany’s DAX added 0.6%.

Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.5% after the government reported inflation fell unexpectedly in August to its lowest level since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to sharp rises in energy and food costs.

The Office for National Statistics said the consumer prices index was up 6.7% in August from the year before, down from 6.8% in July.

Japan’s central bank is due to wrap up a two-day policy setting meeting on Friday.

In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.7% to finish at 33,023.78. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.5% to 7,163.30. South Korea’s Kospi was little changed, inching up less than 0.1% to 2,559.74. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.6% to 17,885.60, while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.5% to 3,108.57.

Trade data for Japan showed exports fell 0.8% last month from a year earlier, marking the second straight month of declines, as exports to China sank 11%. Japan’s exports to the U.S. rose 5.1%, while exports to Europe surged 12.7%. By product category, auto exports zoomed 40.9%, while those of semiconductors rose 8.1%, according to Finance Ministry data.

“We think the weak recovery in China will continue to have a negative impact on exports for a while, but semiconductors seem like they are bottoming out from the down cycle,” Robert Carnell, regional head of research Asia-Pacific at ING, said in a report.

He said the strong contribution to economic growth from exports in the April-July quarter was expected to weaken in this quarter.

In an update on the Chinese economy, officials in Beijing acknowledged challenges in boosting growth in the worlds No. 2 economy, but told reporters they were confident that a recovery was underway and that they had the capacity to ensure stability of financial markets.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 58 cents to $89.90 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It has climbed roughly 13% this year as oil-producing countries curtailed production. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 62 cents to $93.72 per barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 147.89 Japanese yen from 147.81 yen. The euro cost $1.0703, up from $1.0681.

On Tuesday, the benchmark S&P 500 slipped 0.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.3%. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.2%.

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Kageyama reported from Tokyo; Ott reported from Washington.

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