RTTNews - The stock market in Japan ended in positive territory on Wednesday, led by rise in commodity prices. Trading was relatively less as investors preferred to adopt a wait-and-watch approach ahead of the FOMC meeting announced later in the day in the U.S.
In the U.S., the major averages ended mixed on either side of unchanged line as traders preferred to stay in the sidelines ahead of the Fed meeting announcement regarding interest rates. While the Fed is expected to leave rates unchanged, traders will keep a close eye on the accompanying statement. On the economic front, traders digested a report from the National Association of Realtors, which showed that existing homes sales rose for the second consecutive month in May but still came in below economist estimates. The report showed that existing home sales rose 2.4% to an annual rate of 4.77 million units in May from a revised 4.66 million units in April. Economists had expected sales to rise 3% to 4.82 million units from the 4.68 million units originally reported for the previous month. Despite the downward revision to April sales, the annual rate of existing home sales for the month was still up 2.4% compared to March.
While the S&P 500 finished up by 2.06 points or 0.2% at 895, the Dow slipped by 16.10 points or 0.2% to 8,323, and the Nasdaq dropped by 1.27 points or 0.1% to 1,765.
The Nikkei 225 Average opened sharply higher at 9,597 compared to its previous close of 9,550, led by electronics makers on weaker yen. However, weakness in retail stocks and concerns about global recovery prospects limited the upside as investors preferred to stay on the side lines ahead of the FOMC announcement later in the day in the U.S. The index finally closed at 9,590, representing a gain of 40.71 points or 0.43%. The broader Topix Index of all first section issues ended at 902, up 0.77 points or 0.09%.
Light sweet crude oil futures for August delivery ended the Asian session at $68.55 a barrel, down $0.69 from previous close. Light sweet crude August delivery rose to $69.24 per barrel, up $1.74 on the session in New York ahead to the Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory report.
On the economic front, a report released by the Ministry of Finance revealed that Japan's trade surplus plunged to JPY 299.83 billion in May from JPY 341.1 billion recorded during the same period of the previous year. The report noted that Exports tumbled 40.9% on a yearly basis to JPY 4.02 trillion in May, while imports declined 42.4% to JPY 3.72 trillion.
Makers of electronics products gained as yen weakened and stayed about the 95 yen per US dollar level. Canon Inc., advanced 2.6%, Fanuc gained 4.75%, and Konica Minolta rose 3.29%.
Mobile phone carrier Softbank Corp. gained more than 6% following news that the company is planning to raise the dividend payment from the year beginning 2011.
Oil refiner Showa Shell Sekiyu KK gained more than 6% following news that the company will build solar power plants in Saudi Arabia. Among other oil stocks, Impex gained 0.98% and Nippon Oil Corp. advanced 2.61%
Among retailers, Seven & I Holdings Co., lost 2.2% after the company stated that it will bear part of the cost to throw away expired foods.
Financials ended in the negative territory on concerns about recovery. Mitsubishi UfJ declined 1.33%, Mizuho Financial edged down 0.42%, Resona Holdings fell 2.23% and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group lost 1.47%.
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