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Asian Markets Fall; Fed Policy Decision Due Later in the Day

Investing.com - Asian markets fell in morning trade on Wednesday ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy decision due later in the day.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.4% by 10:57 PM ET (02:57 GMT). Data showed the country’s retail sales in September surged 9.1% from last year, compared with expectations of a 6.9% increase.

Nomura Holdings share prices jumped after the company posted its highest quarterly profit in 17 years.

China’s Shanghai Composite and the SZSE Component traded 0.4% and 0.8% respectively. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.2%.

South Korea’s KOSPI dropped 0.5%. Shares of index heavyweight Samsung Electronics (KS:005930) fell more than 1% ahead of its earnings release.

Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 fell 0.7%. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed Wednesday that the consumer price index for the September quarter rose 0.5%, as compared to a 0.6% increase in the previous quarter.

In the U.S., the Federal Reserve delivers its interest-rate decision on Wednesday at 2:00 PM ET (18:00 GMT).

While the Fed’s decision to cut its benchmark rate to a range of 1.5% to 1.75% from a previous range of 1.75% to 2.00% is largely expected, the tone of Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference will be carefully parsed for clues on whether more cuts are in the pipeline for this year.

“I don’t think we should fear a hawkish cut, but I do think one of the things to keep in mind, relative to the prior cut periods, is the Fed starting from a much lower rate so there is a lot less room for the Fed to continue to cut,” Carol Schleif, deputy chief investment officer at Abbot Downing Investment Advisors, told Bloomberg in an interview. “But we are pretty constructive - cautious but constructive on markets.”

A first reading on third-quarter U.S. economic growth is also due on the same day and is expected to be in focus.

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