Asian shares fall back as investors show caution over China

Asian shares fall back as investors show caution over China

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TOKYO (AP) — Shares were mostly lower in Asia on Tuesday as investors stepped back after several days of advances, erasing early gains. Markets are awaiting the Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday and the outcome of a major Chinese planning conference.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index was flat at 22,944.21 by midday Tuesday. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.5 percent to 2,460.06 and the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong sank 0.7 percent to 28,771,54. The Shanghai Composite index shed 0.4 percent to 3,307.57. The S&P ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 6,001.70 but other regional markets were mostly lower.

WALL STREET: Technology and health-cre companies led U.S. stocks modestly higher Monday, driving the market to another set of milestones, with the Standard & Poor's 500 index and Dow Jones industrial average finishing at new highs. The S&P 500 index rose 0.3 percent to 2,659.99. The Dow gained 0.2 percent to 24,386.03 and the Nasdaq composite added 0.5 percent to 6,875.08. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 0.1 percent to 1,519.84.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "The market is kind of in a holding pattern, just sort of waiting for the Fed meeting," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading & derivatives at Charles Schwab. "The Fed sees enough strength in the overall economy, despite the lack of inflation, to still go ahead and continue to hike rates."

FEDERAL RESERVE: The Fed is expected to lift short-term interest rates by 0.25 percent on Wednesday, the third interest rate hike by the central bank this year. While inflation has remained low, the central bank has seen a path to gradually raise rates as the economy and labor market have strengthened.

CHINA: Investors are watching for details from an annual economic planning conference in Beijing that will set the pace for reforms and growth in the world's second-largest economy. The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Friday that President Xi Jinping told fellow leaders that the focus should shift to quality of life and improve innovation and competitiveness.

BITCOIN: Bitcoin futures rose on their first day of trading on a major U.S. exchange, with the first-ever futures contract gaining 20 percent to close at $18,545, according to data from Cboe Global Markets. The price of an actual bitcoin has soared since it began the year below $1,000 and was at $16,407.98 at 03:40 GMT Tuesday, according to Coindesk.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 25 cents to $58.24 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It advanced 63 cents, or 1.1 percent, to settle at $57.99 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, climbed 60 cents to $65.29 per barrel. It added $1.29, or 2 percent, to close at $64.69 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged down to 113.51 Japanese yen from 113.55 yen late Monday. The euro was flat at $1.1770.

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Elaine Kurtenbach


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