Asian stock markets pared earlier losses and ended with gains Tuesday as investors turned their attention on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, which kicks off today, for any hints at monetary easing.
This is the second two-day meeting of the year and the committee will release the members' assessments of the appropriate timing and pace of policy changes via the Fed funds rate.
Analysts at Credit Agricole believe that April FOMC meeting will not result in any material changes to the monetary policy outlook. They say the Fed is expected to support the current exceptionally accommodative policy stance but that there is little sentiment for additional stimulus right now.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.26 percent or 52.77 to 20,677.16 and Indian BSE Sensex advanced 0.75 percent or 128.44 points to 17,225.12, while Chinese Shanghai ended flat.
Earlier, Asian stocks declined as weak economic data from Europe and China as well as increased political uncertainty in France and the Netherlands dampened investor sentiment.
Japanese stocks ended lower as a strengthening yen weighed on exporters. Benchmark Nikkei declined 0.78 percent or 74.13 points to 9,468.04. Canon Inc. declined 1.06 percent and Sony Corp. fell 1.7 percent, while Honda Motor Co. slipped 0.31 percent.
Advantest Corp. surged 4.47 percent on news that its operating profit probably reached more than 6 billion yen ($74 million) in the quarter ended March, buoyed by growing shipments, Bloomberg reported, citing the Nikkei newspaper.
Global market sentiments deteriorated Monday as disappointing manufacturing surveys in Europe and China raised concerns over near-term growth outlook. Particularly German, French and European PMIs all were at or below expectations, renewing the wave of pessimism towards the Eurozone economy.
Manufacturing activity in Germany shrank at the fastest pace in nearly three years in April. Markit's manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) sank sharply to 46.3 in April from 48.4 in March, while analysts expected a reading of 49.0 in April. The steepest contraction in the manufacturing sector since July 2009 raised concerns over the economic outlook of the Eurozone’s largest economy.
Meanwhile, the resignation of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and uncertainty over the French Presidential race also added to the downside. Rutte and his cabinet resigned Monday after failing to agree on budget terms aimed at adopting additional austerity measures in order to reduce public deficit to below 3 percent next year.
In France, preliminary results confirmed that Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, who intends to renegotiate the EU’s new fiscal pact, won 28.8 percent of the votes while President Sarkozy got 26.1 percent. The two are headed for a runoff in May.