Asia markets September 18: The Fed, oil, currencies

Stocks in Asia Pacific were little changed in Wednesday morning trade as investors await the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision, set to be released later stateside.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan was little changed in early trade, while the Topix fell 0.31%. Data showed Wednesday that Japan’s exports fell 8.2% year-on-year in August, less than expectations of a 10.9% decrease by economists in a Reuters poll.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 traded flat.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was up 0.06%.

Anheuser-Busch InBev will begin taking orders in its second attempt to spin off its Asian business in Hong Kong on Wednesday, aiming to raise up to $6.6 billion in its Budweiser listing — what could be the world’s second largest IPO this year. Budweiser APAC is set to price the IPO Sept. 23, and the stock will debut on Sept. 30, the company said in a statement.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Investors await the Fed’s latest decision on monetary policy, set to be released on Wednesday stateside. The U.S. central bank is widely expected to cut rates by 25 basis points. That would be its second rate cut of 2019.

Oil watch

Stocks of oil companies in the region will be watched, following a sharp drop in crude prices overnight after Saudi Arabia signaled its oil supply could return to normal soon. That came after a historic rise in oil prices following a series of drone attacks over the weekend on the kingdom’s oil industry that disrupted its crude production.

Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in a press conference Tuesday that oil production capabilities were fully restored and that oil output will be back to pre-attack levels by the end of September.

In the morning of Asian trading hours, international benchmark Brent crude futures shed 0.6% to $64.16 per barrel, while U.S. crude futures fell 0.76% to $58.89 per barrel.

Overnight stateside, stocks finished the session on Wall Street little changed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 33.98 points to 27,110.80 and the S&P 500 rose 0.3% to 3,005.69. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.4% to 8,186.02.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 98.210 after declining from levels above 98.4 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.12 against the dollar after weakening from levels below 108.0 seen earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6861 after recovering from lows below $0.684 seen in the previous session.

What’s on tap:

  • Thailand: Bank of Thailand rate decision
  • Hong Kong: Esprit full-year earnings

— Reuters, along with CNBC’s Fred Imbert and Yun Li, contributed to this report.

Correction: This article has been revised to reflect that Budweiser APAC is set to price its IPO on Sept. 23.

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