World Economy

Asian Stocks Mixed, US Stocks Higher

Asian Stocks Mixed, US Stocks HigherAsian Stocks Mixed, US Stocks Higher

Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday after Wall Street slid and oil prices tumbled while investors waited for a US Federal Reserve statement on monetary policy, AP reported.

keeping score: China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6 percent to 3,040.88 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 0.4 percent to 16,825.21. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 0.6 percent at 22,538. Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Manila declined while Sydney and New Zealand rose. Seoul was little changed.

Ruble Rocked: The ruble dropped 20 percent under pressure from lower oil prices and Western sanctions over Moscow’s conflict with Ukraine. That was despite a decision by Russia’s central bank to hike its benchmark interest rate to support the ruble. “The end is near for Russia’s economic and financial stability,” said Carl B. Weinberg of High Frequency Economics in a report. Weinberg warned foreign creditors might face a wave of defaults by Russian borrowers. Apple Inc. halted sales in Russia, blaming the financial turmoil.

Oil Slump: Crude prices fell further from already-low levels, hammering stocks of energy producers. Stock markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi lost 7 percent on Tuesday and Saudi Arabia’s benchmark fell 7.3 percent on expectations governments will be forced to cut spending, possibly fueling social tensions. Benchmark U.S. crude was down $1.20 to $54.73 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 2 cents the previous session to $55.93.

Wall Street: The Standard & Poor’s 500 ended Tuesday with a loss of 16.89 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,972.74. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 111.97 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,068.87, while the Nasdaq composite dropped 57.32 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,547.83.

Currencies: The dollar fell to 117.04 yen from 117.07 yen late Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.2491 from the previous day’s $1.2502.

The US stock market is opening modestly higher ahead of a key policy announcement from the Federal Reserve. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 70 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,140 as of 9:35 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday.

Fed policymakers conclude a two-day meeting later Wednesday. Traders will be watching for any signs that the Fed is considering raising interest rates.

Bond prices fell slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.07 percent.

 Middle East stock markets look set to stay volatile as oil prices are still far from establishing any clear floor, and key producers indicate they have no plans to reduce output.