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Asian markets slip as US Fed prepares for meeting

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Asian markets mostly fell on Tuesday, with traders sitting on the sidelines as they await the US Federal Reserve's plans for its stimulus programme.

The dollar enjoyed another positive day, with Wall Street also providing a strong lead thanks to upbeat US housing data.

Tokyo stocks dropped 0.20 percent, or 25.84 points, to 13,007.28, after jumping 2.73 percent the day before.

Sydney fell 0.24 percent, or 11.5 points, to 4,814.4. But Seoul rose 0.93 percent, or 17.52 points, to 1,900.62.

In afternoon trade, Hong Kong was down 0.64 percent while in Shanghai shares slipped 0.18 percent, reversing earlier gains.

Markets have been in turmoil for weeks as investors speculate on whether the Federal Reserve will continue with its $85-billion-a-month quantitative easing programme, which has helped fuel a global stocks rally.

The Fed is expected to announce Wednesday after a two-day meeting when or if it intends to begin reeling in the huge bond-buying scheme as the economy shows signs of picking up.

A mixed bag of US data recently has pointed to an uncertain recovery with many analysts predicting the Fed would hold off cutting back on the purchases for the time being.

There were, however, some signs of strength in the world's biggest economy on Monday with a confidence index of national home builders hitting a seven-year high as they begin to see demand for new homes picking up pace.

The data provided a lift to shares on Wall Street. The Dow finished up 0.73 percent, the S&P 500 advanced 0.76 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 0.83 percent.

The dollar edged up against the yen after see-sawing last week.

The US unit was trading at 94.91 yen in afternoon trade, against 94.67 yen in New York late Monday. However, it is still down around nine percent from its recent peak in late May.

The euro bought 126.55 yen and $1.3327 compared with 126.52 yen and $1.3363.

Oil prices rose, fuelled by growing concern over the Syrian conflict and political unrest in Turkey, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, gained five cents to $97.82 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for August delivery added nine cents to $105.56.

Gold was at $1,377.50 at 0650 GMT from $1,386.40 late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Taiwan rose 0.23 percent, or 18.13 points, to 8,011.02.

Chunghwa Telecom was up 0.83 percent at Tw$96.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company was 0.47 percent higher at Tw$106.5.

-- Wellington rose 0.33 percent, or 14.47 points, to 4462.10.

Ryman Healthcare added 2.9 percent to NZ$6.30 while Telecom was up 1.3 percent at NZ$2.28.

dan/jta

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130618/asian-markets-slip-us-fed-prepares-meeting-0