Investors entered a wait-and-watch mode Tuesday, pushing Asian stocks down after a nearly four-week rally. In Europe, a mixed round of corporate earnings reports and a larger-than-expected drop in the U.K.’s third quarter GDP growth also weighed on investor sentiment, pulling down stock markets at the open.
The upbeat outlook in Asia, fuelled by China’s surprise rate cut Friday, gave way to uncertainty over the outcome of central bank meetings in the United States and Japan scheduled for this week. U.S. stock futures were also slightly lower ahead of the Fed meeting, with futures for the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq trading nearly flat.
“The Fed and the BoJ [Bank of Japan] meetings this week are pivotal events that will determine whether this rally can go any higher,” Angus Nicholson, an analyst at IG Markets in Melbourne, told Bloomberg. “If we see the Fed push back raising interest rates toward 2016 and the BoJ step up stimulus, that will have a big positive impact on equities.”
Expectations are growing that the U.S. Federal Reserve will hold off hiking interest rates until early next year.
In China, the Shanghai Composite Index dropped nearly 2 percent during early trade, before paring losses and closing up 0.1 percent. The Shenzhen Composite index was up 0.65 percent while the Nasdaq-style ChiNext index was up 1.44 percent. Elsewhere in Asia, however, markets closed in the red, with Japan’s Nikkei 225, South Korea’s Kospi Composite and India’s S&P BSE Sensex ending the day down 0.9 percent, 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.
Risk appetite among traders was also hurt by recent remarks from Japanese officials that hinted that the BOJ might hold off on an expansion of its asset-buying program.
Meanwhile, in Europe, weak commodity prices and a lackluster handover from Wall Street overnight pushed markets down. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down over 0.5 percent, while Germany’s DAX, France’s CAC 40 index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 were trading down between 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent.
Mining stocks in Europe were broadly weaker, with Anglo American plc losing 3.1 percent and BHP Billiton plc falling 2.3 percent in London on concerns over slowing demand in China.