Asian stock markets declined Thursday as investors looked forward to the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting later in the day, after the disappointing move by Federal Reserve which did not come up with any new monetary measures overnight.
The Chinese Shanghai Composite fell 0.57 percent or 12.18 points to 2111.18 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.71 percent or 139.80 points to 19680.58, while Japan's benchmark Nikkei gained 0.13 percent or 11.33 points to 8653.18. South Korea's KOSPI Composite declined 0.56 percent or 10.53 points to 1869.40 and India's benchmark BSE Sensex fell 0.22 percent.
Market participants are awaiting the ECB governing council meeting later Thursday as the Federal Reserve offered no new monetary stimulus to boost the U.S. economy at the end of a two-day policy meeting Wednesday.
Despite its less optimistic assessment of the domestic economy, the Fed officials decided to take more time to make up their minds and refrained from enacting another monetary stimulus. The FED said it will closely monitor incoming information and will provide additional support if needed. Investors will now focus on Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech at the Fed's Jackson Hole Symposium at the end of this month for further hints of what is in store.
Markets are focused now on the ECB monetary policy decision as expectations are riding high on Mario Draghi's pledge last Thursday that the bank was ready to do "whatever it takes" to help support the euro. Global markets rallied over the past week on hopes that the central bank may reactivate its bond purchase program again, to prevent Spain from evolving into a full-blown crisis.
“The reactivation of SMP is not in our base scenario; hence, we expect the market to be disappointed. We believe this likely disappointment will continue to favor our short EURUSD positions for the week,” Barclays Capital analysts said in a research note to Reuters.
Japanese shares ended higher as gains from automakers offered support. Automakers gained after U.S. July car sales showed that Ford and GM gave back some market share to resurgent Japanese automakers like Nissan Motor, Toyota and Honda.
Toyota Motor Corp. gained 1.33 percent and Nissan Motor Co gained 2.32 percent, while Mazda Motor advanced 2.17 percent. Kyocera Corp surged 5.07 percent and Mitsui Fudosan Co gained 1.32 percent after reporting quarterly earnings.
The weakness in the financials and property developers’ shares weighed on Chinese markets. The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. declined 1.33 percent and the China Life Insurance Co fell 1.39 percent in Hong Kong, while Gemdale Corp slumped 6.38 percent in Shanghai.
Samsung Electronics slipped 2.85 percent and Hyundai Motor gained 0.42 percent in Seoul, while Tata Motors Ltd plunged 2.15 percent and Canara Bank fell 1.61 percent in India.