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Asia shares at seven-month lows ahead of Fed meeting

Asia shares

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan declined 0.31per cent, while Hong Kong and mainland China stabilised after a sharp sell-off

Shares in Asia were stuck at seven-month lows on Wednesday, amid a storm in Chinese equity markets.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan declined 0.31per cent in morning trading. Markets in Hong Kong and mainland China stabilised after a sharp sell-off in the previous session, balancing declines elsewhere in Asia.

Asian shares have dropped in each of the three previous sessions as regulatory crackdowns in China routed stocks in the technology, property and education sectors, leaving international investors bruised.

Chinese state-run financial media urged calm on Wednesday morning, and while Chinese shares swung in early trading, they did not repeat the sharp plunges seen earlier in the week.

Chinese blue chips were last flat after having had a volatile start to the day, and the Hong Kong benchmark gave up early gains to drop 0.24per cent. Both were still near eight-month lows.

The embattled Hang Seng Tech Index was last flat, also after a volatile morning, a day after touching its lowest level since its creation in July 2020. It is still down about 40per cent from its February high.

Japan’s Nikkei tumbled 1.15per cent to a six-month low, with shares in SoftBank Group, a major investor in Chinese tech, falling 3.68per cent.

China and the Fed are the two key things for today, said Tai Hui, chief market strategist for Asia Pacific, at JPMorgan Asset Management. We are still trying to digest the news from China, what’s going to be new is how the Fed view the latest round of (COVID-19) infections and whether they need to readjust their view.

The statement from the Fed policy meeting, and a press conference from Chairman Jerome Powell are due at 1800 GMT.

Markets will be watching closely for any hints on when the Fed will start reducing its purchases of government bonds and any fresh insight into its views on inflation and economic growth.

The declines in Asian equities on Tuesday caused Wall Street to retreat a little from the record highs set earlier in the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Tuesday 0.2per cent lower, the S&P 500 declined 0.5per cent and the Nasdaq Composite shed 1.2per cent.

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