Asia Mostly Lower Ahead of U.S. Fed Meeting

Asian markets closed slightly lower on Tuesday ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's December meeting.

The Nikkei 225 declined 72.56 points, or 0.3%, to 22,866.17

Gains were seen in trading houses and financials, as automakers and tech stocks traded mixed.

Energy-related stocks also saw significant gains, with Inpex closing up 3.5%.

The Hang Seng Index plummeted 171.41 points, or 0.6%, to 28,793.88

SoftBank Group will invest around an additional $500 million U.S. in satellite broadband company OneWeb, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing a source. The increase in funds will mean SoftBank's total investment in OneWeb totals $1.5 billion, the Journal said. Shares of SoftBank closed down 0.4%

Elsewhere, shares of Toshiba rose 1.7% by the end of the day, outperforming most peers in the tech sector in Japan after the company said it had not come to a consensus over a dispute with Western Digital.

On Monday, Argyle Street Management, an activist investor in Toshiba, told the troubled Japanese company it did not have to sell its memory chip arm to a consortium led by Bain. Argyle made the remarks after Toshiba received a recent cash injection

In Korea, several heavyweight tech names rose, but those gains were offset by losses seen in retailers and energy-related stocks. Samsung Electronics closed up 0.6%, and Lotte Shopping was down 3.4% by the end of the day.

Kumho Tire stock jumped 7.6% on the day following news about a potential takeover

Australian markets took on some strength, with energy stocks climbing 1.3%, following the rise in oil prices. Santos gained 1%, Oil Search was up 1.1% and Woodside rose 1.7% by the end of the session.

Shares of ANZ closed up 1.1%, outperforming other Australian financial shares, following news that the bank would be selling its life insurance business to Zurich Financial Services Australia. ANZ said proceeds of the sale would total 2.85 billion Australian dollars ($2.15 billion U.S).

Meanwhile, France's Unibail-Rodamco on Tuesday announced it had entered into an agreement to buy Australian shopping center company Westfield for $24.7 billion U.S. Trade in Westfield shares had been halted earlier while the group's Australasian arm Scentre Group, a distinct listed unit, closed 4.1% higher.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar was steady against a basket of rivals, with the dollar index at 93.905 late afternoon, after sliding as low as 93.666 during the Monday session. Against the yen, the greenback was a touch softer at 113.44.

The New Zealand dollar held onto gains after getting a boost following a Monday announcement that Adrian Orr would be appointed as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's governor. The Kiwi dollar traded at $0.6931 at 2:57 p.m. HK/SIN, above Monday's close of $0.6910 and after popping as high as $0.6936 earlier.

The Australian dollar also firmed on the back of oil's move higher, last trading at $0.7543 after briefly trading at the $0.74 handle at the end of last week.


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 dropped 53.48 points, or 1.3%, to 4,016.02

Markets in the region also likely took note of better-than-expected China credit data released Monday. New yuan loans for November came in at 1.12 trillion yuan ($169 billion), above the 800 billion yuan forecast.

Meanwhile, Chinese property developer Country Garden Holdings said it would be withdrawing its application for plans to list a subsidiary on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The company cited a "change in the policies of the approval authorities" in China as the reason for its decision, according to a filing. Country Garden stock was down 1.3% as other Hong Kong-listed property names trended lower.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index gave back 10.49 points, or 0.4%, to 2,461

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index moved lower 29.81 points, or 0.3%, to 10,443.28

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index poked ahead 5.09 points, or 0.2%, to 3,465.54

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 added 3.3 points to 8,280.81

In Australia, the ASX 200 improved 14.92 points, or 0.3%, to 6,013.20