Asian markets rise slightly ahead of the Federal Reserve’s rate decision
China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3%. South Korea’s Kospi moved up 0.4%. Japan’s Nikkei traded flat. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index seesawed between small gains and losses, and was last down by less than 0.1%.
Oil futures extended their losses during Asian trading hours Wednesday. US oil futures fell 0.6% to $59 a barrel. On Tuesday, the price tumbled 5.7% to settle at $59.24 per barrel. That fall is its worst daily decline in more than a month, according to Refinitiv.
Futures of Brent crude, the global benchmark, also fell 0.3% to $64.28 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent fell 6.5% Tuesday to settle at $64.55 a barrel.
Prices fell after Reuters reported that Saudi Arabian oil production would return to normal within two-to-three weeks. Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman said the country’s oil exports would not fall in September, as the kingdom will rely on reserves to keep exports stable.
Shares of oil producers pulled back sharply in Asia.
PetroChina, the region’s largest oil and gas producer, lost 2.6% in Hong Kong. Its Shanghai-listed stock dropped 1.4%. CNOOC, China’s biggest offshore oil producer, declined 2% in Hong Kong.
Japanese oil and gas company Inpex slid 5.4% in Tokyo. Japan Petroleum Exploration Company fell 2.9%.
Investors are also switching focus to the Federal Reserve’s policy announcement Wednesday. Expectations for a quarter-percentage-point rate cut have fallen to just more than 50%, according to the CME FedWatch tool. That’s down from 92% last week, when the majority still expected rates to be slashed.
In July, the Fed cut rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis.
“The big question for market participants is whether the Fed will commit to more cuts,” wrote Edward Moya, senior market analyst for Oanda in New York, in a research note.
He suggested further accommodation might be needed to fight off a global slowdown and thwart rising geopolitical risks, including the US-China trade war, tensions in the Persian Gulf and Brexit.