Stocks retreat

    308

    TOKYO/NEW YORK- Asian stocks fell on Wednesday, tracking Wall Street as investors waited to see if the US Federal Reserve will signal a faster path toward policy normalization than previously expected.

    The US central bank ends a two-day meeting later in the day.

    An index of regional equities excluding Japan pulled back 0.5 percent, led by declines in South Korea’s Kospi.

    The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent.

    Japan’s Nikkei 225 was flat to slightly lower, while the broader Topix index bucked the trend to rise 0.1 percent.

    European stocks were set to open weaker, with pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures down 0.1 percent. FTSE futures also edged lower in early deals.

    Global markets have been knocked in recent weeks by a rout in Treasuries that saw the benchmark yield soar to a more than one-year high as bond investors bet accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations and massive fiscal stimulus would spur faster-than-expected growth and inflation in the world’s biggest economy.

    The volatility stoked speculation the Fed may be forced into a technical adjustment to the levers controlling its policy rate, but few expect the central bank to act on the matter at this week’s meeting, even if it releases rosier growth forecasts.

    “We expect (Chair Jerome) Powell to note the FOMC has the tools to intervene if the bond market becomes disorderly or constrains the economic recovery,” analysts at Commonwealth Bank of Australia wrote.