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Asian markets mixed ahead of US Fed meeting

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Asian markets were mixed Monday despite a weak batch of US economic data boosting hopes that the Federal Reserve would put off announcing any winding down of its vast stimulus scheme at the end of a policy meeting this week.

Traders were upbeat despite a soft lead from Wall Street while the dollar edged up after suffering a sell-off on Friday in New York.

Tokyo jumped 2.73 percent, or 346.60 points, to 13,033.12, climbing for a second successive session after plunging more than six percent on Thursday.

Sydney rose 0.71 percent, or 34.1 points, to 4,825.9, Hong Kong gained 1.22 percent, or 256.76 points, to 21,225.9 while Seoul lost 0.32 percent, or 6.14 points, to 1,883.10 and Shanghai closed down 0.27 percent, or 5.82 points, at 2,156.22.

Mumbai climbed 0.77 percent, or 147.94 points, to end at 19,325.87, its second straight day of gains, even as the country's central bank kept interest rates on hold, citing inflationary pressures.

Global markets have see-sawed in recent weeks on expectations the Fed will soon start to reel in its $85-billion-a-month stimulus that has been credited with fuelling a stocks rally since September.

"As US employment data has shown signs of a weak economic recovery, I think the Fed will stand pat on its easing policies, opening the door to more yen weakening," Naoki Fujiwara, fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Selling pressure intensified last Tuesday when the Bank of Japan held off unveiling any more of its own easing measures.

However, the latest figures out of Washington on Friday suggest the US economy is still too weak for the Fed to turn off the tap, with analysts saying it is unlikely this week will see any such announcements.

Industrial production came in flat last month, there was a decline in the much-watched University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, and producer prices registered just a modest gain in May.

"The data coming in are up and down, and unconvincing that the US economy is on a firm recovery track, leading to more jitters about central bank policy," said SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi.

On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.70 percent, the S&P 500 lost 0.59 percent and the Nasdaq was down 0.63 percent.

The dollar also slipped in New York Friday but bounced back in Asia, thanks to a more confident outlook for the Fed meeting.

In Tokyo afternoon trade the dollar was at 94.73 yen against 94.22 yen in New York late Friday. The euro was at $1.3334 and 126.71 yen from $1.3346 and 125.74 yen.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, dropped 35 cents to $97.50 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for August delivery shed 45 cents to $105.48 in the afternoon.

Gold was at $1,386.40 at 1045 GMT from $1,379.60 late Friday.

In other markets:

-- Jakarta ended up 0.29 percent, or 13.76 points, at 4,774.50.

Cement producer Semen Indonesia gained 1.99 percent to 17,950 rupiah, while palm oil firm Astra Agro Lestari fell 1.75 percent to 19,650 rupiah.

-- Kuala Lumpur rose 0.57 percent, or 9.98 points, to close at 1,772.17.

Malayan Banking added 2 percent to 10.38 ringgit, while Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad dipped 3.8 percent to 1.53 ringgit.

-- Singapore was up 0.70 percent, or 22.01 points to 3,183.44.

Singapore Telecommunications gained 0.55 percent to Sg$3.68 and real estate developer Capitaland added 1.24 percent at Sg$3.26.

-- Manila closed 1.56 percent higher, adding 97.15 points to 6,339.41.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. rose 0.28 percent to 2,850 pesos while Ayala Corp. added 2.35 percent to 587.50 pesos.

-- Taipei rose 0.69 percent, or 55.15 points, to 7,992.89.

HTC gained 2.11 percent at Tw$266.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was unchanged at Tw$106.0.

-- Bangkok gained 0.39 percent or 5.77 points to 1,471.04.

Coal producer Banpu added 3.46 percent to 269.00 baht, while oil company PTT rose 2.17 percent to 329.00 baht.

-- Wellington rose 0.60 percent, or 26.67 points, to 4,447.64

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130617/asian-markets-mixed-ahead-us-fed-meeting-0