Wall Street edges higher; US Fed meeting in focus

Wall Street edges higher; US Fed meeting in focus”

Brent crude futures were up 0.45 percent at $55.38 a barrel.

Overnight in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 leaped 2% in its first trading session of the week to close at a two-week high of 20, 299.38 points as investors returned from a national holiday Monday buoyed by a weaker yen and speculation of a possible snap election announcement later this week from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. China's Shanghai Composite Index dipped by 0.2%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 0.4%.

The Fed meeting, which starts Tuesday, is expected to yield details on how the central bank will unwind its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, almost a decade after the global financial crisis.

Asian stocks were mostly steady on Wednesday after Wall Street again rose to record highs, although movements were limited as a wait-and-see mood prevailed before the Federal Reserve reveals its monetary policy stance later in the day.

Many investors have been skeptical the Fed will raise rates again this year, citing subdued inflation readings and concerns around the economic toll of major summer hurricanes. "Should the Fed go ahead and announce a balance sheet normalisation the dollar will rally but the extent of the move hinges on any hints about the Fed raising rates in December". "Investors are likely to look past the Fed's interest rate decision and even the plan to shrink the Fed's balance sheet, focusing primarily upon the Fed's forward guidance", said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.2 percent to 22,370.80. They will closely watch Fed Chair Janet Yellen's press conference for her views on inflation.

Wall Street rose to fresh record closes on Monday, boosted by gains in banking and financial stocks while investors eyed this week's meeting of the USA central bank in Washington. The S&P 500 added 2.78 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 2,506.65, Xinhua news agency reported.

The tech heavy Nasdaq lost 0.86 to stand at 6,454. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks declined 0.1 percent, to 1,440.40.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 5, 2017. Brent crude, used to price global oils, gained 24 cents to $55.38 per barrel in London.

In currency markets, the dollar hit an eight-week high against the yen, trading up 0.4% to 111.30, with investors moving out of the safe-haven Japanese currency as tensions between the United States and North Korea eased. Against the euro, the dollar is valued $1.1988 compared to yesterday's $1.1954.

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