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Asia report: Markets mostly weaker after central bank decisions

By Josh White

Date: Thursday 17 Sep 2020

Asia report: Markets mostly weaker after central bank decisions

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia finished mostly weaker on Thursday, as investors digested the latest developments from central banks, including the Fed in the US overnight.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.67% at 23,319.37, as the yen weakened 0.21% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 104.73.

Of the major components on the benchmark index, robotics specialist Fanuc was down 1.38%, Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing lost 1.28%, and technology giant SoftBank Group was 1.3% weaker.

The broader Topix index was 0.36% weaker by the end of trading in Tokyo, settling at 1,638.40.

Market expectations were sated as the Bank of Japan stood pat on its policy.

The central bank did say there were signs the Japanese economy was picking up, but still warned of "a severe situation" as Covid-19 continued to have an impact.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.41% to close at 3,270.44, and the smaller, technology-centric Shenzhen Composite managed gains of 0.08% to 2,186.99.

South Korea's Kospi was off 1.22% at 2,406.07, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong declined 1.56% to 24,340.85.

The blue-chip technology stocks were mixed in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 2.46%, while chipmaker SK Hynix added 0.86%.

LG Chem slid 6.11% by the close, as the company announced it was preparing to spin out its battery division.

It told markets a "new corporation" would be running its battery operations from 1 December.

Investors spent the early parts of the session poring over the latest policy decision from the US Federal Reserve.

The central bank indicated that current interest rates could remain where they are at the moment, close to zero, until 2023 in a bid to get inflation closer to its 2% target.

"With regard to interest rates, we now indicate that we expect it will be appropriate to maintain the current zero to 0.25% target range for the federal funds rates until labour market conditions have reached levels consistent with the committee's assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2% and is on track to moderately exceed 2% for some time," said Fed chair Jerome Powell.

Oil prices were slightly lower at the end of the Asian day, with Brent crude last down 0.02% at $42.21 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate stable at $40.16.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.22% at 5,883.20, while across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 declined 0.32% to 11,777.13.

The down under dollars were both weaker against the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.18% at AUD 1.3713, while the Kiwi retreated 0.21% to NZD 1.4884.

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