HONG KONG: Asian equities were mixed Wednesday, with attention turning to the Federal Reserve’s key policy decision later in the day, while investors remain on alert for developments in the Middle East after the attack on Saudi oil facilities rocked markets.
Crude prices tumbled Tuesday and were almost unchanged in Asia following news that Riyadh will get its two major installations back online earlier than expected, though analysts said there was nervousness on trading floors about oil security in the future.With fears low for now of a military retaliation against Iran — accused of being behind the strikes — focus is now on the Fed, which is expected to cut interest rates while its post-meeting statement will be closely followed for clues about future plans.
Global markets have spent most of this month rising on bets that central banks, led by the Fed, will move to a softer monetary policy to offset a slowdown in most economies exacerbated by the China-US trade war, reports AFP.
“A rate cut of 25 basis points is universally regarded as a done deal by global markets,” said OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley.
“What will be closely watched is the press conference 30 minutes later, where we will gain more clarity as to whether the Fed has moved to an explicit easing bias.
“The likelihood of a shift from neutral to easing will be high as the (policy board) will not be able to ignore the storm cloud around the rest of the world that must eventually start raining on the United States.”
Oxford Economics estimates the Fed will cut three more times this year, which would erase all its 2018 rate hikes.The Fed has been forced to pump more than $100 billion into US financial markets owing to a tightening of liquidity that had seen short-term lending rates spike for companies.