Asia Falls Ahead of U.S. Fed Decision

Asia stocks slipped on Wednesday as investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement of its decision on interest rates.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan dumped 187.78 points, or 0.9%, to 21,521.53, with shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing declining 2%. Shares of Sony surged 5.31% after the company posted a record first-quarter profit on Tuesday.

The Japanese yen, often seen as a safe-haven currency, traded at 108.55 against the U.S. dollar after strengthening from levels above 108.8 in the previous session.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index plummeted 368.75 points, or 1.3%, to 27,777.75. Shares of life insurer AIA fell 2%. Meanwhile, markets in Hong Kong closed early as the city braced itself for a tropical storm.

Hong Kong-listed shares of China Vanke fell 2.2%, while its Shenzhen-listed counterpart declined 3.6%. Sunac China Holdings also dropped 3.6%, while Country Garden Holdings slipped 1.8%.

South Korea’s Kospi closed lower as shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics dropped 2.6% after the company reported a 56% plunge in its second-quarter profit as compared to a year ago.

Australian markets slipped as consumer prices rose faster than expected in the second quarter, with the headline consumer price index rising 0.6% in the June quarter. That was above expectations of a 0.5% rise by economists

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6891 after slipping from the $0.690 handle yesterday.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 slid 34.96 points, or 0.9%, to 3,835.36.

Shares of Chinese property developers slipped after comments from a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist PartyTuesday that housing should be "used for living, not for speculation." It also stressed that the real estate sector will not be used as a "short-term means of stimulating the economy."

China’s factory activity contracted for the third straight month in July, according to official data released earlier on Wednesday.
The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for July came in at 49.7, according to data from the Chinese statistics bureau.

Economists had expected factory activity in China to edge up to 49.6 from June’s reading of 49.4. A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion, while those below that signal contraction.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index faded 14.13 points, or 0.7%, to 2,024.66

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index moved lower 49.79 points, or 1.5%, to 3,300.75

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index dropped 7.09 points, or 0.1%, to 10,823.81

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 lost 21.2 points, or 0.2%, to 10,857.75

In Australia, the ASX 200 flopped 32.52 points, or 0.5%, to 6,812.56