Equities stuttered in Asia on Wednesday as investors took a step back after recent gains, with focus now turning to a key speech by Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell on Friday.
Rising hopes for China-US trade talks have provided a much-needed lift to markets over the past two days but with few fresh catalysts, dealers are keeping their powder dry ahead of Friday’s address.
After positive signals from US President Donald Trump and some of his top advisers on Monday over progress in the talks with Beijing, and an olive branch with the delay of a ban on Huawei purchases, there have been few developments for traders to buy on.
“Our trade-war headline inspired relief rally appears to have run its course as I suspect there is still a lot of nervousness among US investors as the global economic realities are just too hard to ignore,” said Stephen Innes at Valour Markets. Hong Kong added 0.2 per cent, Shanghai was barely moved and Tokyo ended down 0.3 per cent. Sydney fell almost one per cent, Singapore shed 0.3 per cent and Wellington was 0.9 per cent lower. Taipei finished flat and Seoul added 0.2 per cent. In early trade, London rose 0.5 per cent, Paris added 0.8 per cent and Frankfurt was
up 0.5 per cent.
The Fed released minutes of its July meeting later on Wednesday, which will provide an insight into its deliberations when cutting interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis. But Powell’s talk at the central bankers’ gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is the key event and will be closely pored over for clues about the bank’s plans for next month, with experts unable to agree on whether or not he will announce further cuts.