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Asian Markets Close Mixed as Investors Expect 0.25% Rise in Rates

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday as trade-war worries persisted and investors waited for cues from the new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s first policy meeting starting later in the day, with the central bank widely expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points.

Sentiment was also dampened after Facebook shares suffered the biggest one-day drop in four years overnight amid allegations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica inappropriately obtained and used the social media giant’s user data.

China’s Shanghai Composite index rose 11.39 points or 0.35 percent to 3,290.64 as China’s legislature nominated Yi Gang, vice-governor of the People’s Bank of China, as its new chief. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was marginally lower in late trade.

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Japanese markets fell as tech stocks followed their U.S. peers lower on reports Facebook allowed improper access to user data.

The Nikkei average shed 99.93 points or 0.47 percent to close at 21,380.97 before a public holiday on Wednesday and the U.S. central bank’s rate decision.

The broader Topix index closed 0.21 percent lower at 1,716.29. Tokyo Electron, Eisai and Yaskawa Electric dropped 1-3 percent.

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Australian markets retreated as commodity-related stocks declined on concerns that U.S. President Donald Trump could impose additional protectionist trade measures.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 23 points or 0.39 percent to 5,936.40 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 23.90 points or 0.39 percent at 6,040.80.

Miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and South32 lost 2-3 percent as base metal and oil prices slipped on a firmer dollar ahead of the Fed and BoE meetings.

Internet provider TPG Telecom slumped 4.6 percent as it reported an 11 percent decrease in first-half profit. Kathmandu Holdings shares entered a trading halt after the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer said it has agreed to acquire U.S.-based Oboz Footwear for $60 million.

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Australia’s consumer confidence improved during the week ended March 18, while house prices climbed 1.0 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter of 2017, exceeding expectations for a flat reading, separate reports showed.

Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s March 6 meeting revealed that the central bank remains worried about domestic growth being hampered by an appreciating exchange rate.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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