Asian markets tread water ahead of Fed decision

Asian markets were mixed on Thursday, while the euro edged higher, ahead of the end of a US Federal Reserve meeting that dealers increasingly expect will see a new round of stimulus.
Regional firms linked to Apple were also mixed after the US giant unveiled the iPhone 5 in California, with some analysts giving it a lukewarm response.
Tokyo rose 0.39 percent, or 35.19 points, to 8,995.15, Seoul was flat, edging up 0.66 points to 1,950.69 and Sydney eased 0.50 percent, or 21.9 points, to 4,339.4.
In the afternoon Hong Kong climbed 0.10 percent while Shanghai was off 0.33 percent.
The Fed is due to conclude its two-day meeting later Thursday and most economists have predicted it will announce a third round of bond-buying, or quantitative easing (QE3) to spur domestic growth.
“The countdown to tonight’s FOMC decision is set to keep trading subdued on Thursday amid a non-descript domestic calendar,” National Australia Bank said in a note.
Shares were broadly unmoved by the German Constitutional Court ruling in favour of the European Stability Mechanism’s legality on Wednesday as they had already priced in a positive result.
However, the euro continued to benefit from the decision, which removed the final hurdle to opening up the eurozone’s huge bailout fund to help struggling nations such as Spain.
In Tokyo the single currency, which posted strong gains Wednesday after the announcement, advanced to $1.2925 and 100.45 yen against $1.2899 and 100.40 yen in New York late Wednesday.
The dollar, which has weakened on the likelihood of a flood of money hitting the market due to the QE3, was trading at 77.70 yen against 77.84 yen.
Apple-related plays were uneven after Wednesday’s iPhone 5 launch.
In South Korea supplier LG Display and chipmaker SK Hynix were down 1.99 percent and 1.58 percent, respectively, while component maker TDK added 3.71 percent in Tokyo.
In Taipei assembler Hon Hai Precision was flat, while metal casing producer Catcher Technology dropped 2.4 percent, and lens maker Largan Precision lost 0.92 percent.
“Overall, the iPhone 5 was disappointing hardware-wise. The software side seemed a bit promising, but it seems like it isn’t good enough to excite investors,” said Kang Hyun-gie, an analyst at Solomon Investment & Securities in South Korea.
In Shanghai dealers were cautious despite the cabinet saying Wednesday it would take various measures, including speeding up payment of tax rebates to exporters, to bolster flagging exports, the economy’s key driver.
The market is also waiting for Beijing to announce monetary easing measures following several months of weak data on growth, trade, spending and investment.
On oil markets New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October, was up four cents at $97.05 a barrel in the afternoon, while Brent North Sea crude for October was up six cents at $116.02 a barrel.
Gold was at $1,730.65 at 0600 GMT compared with $1,743.74 on Thursday.
In other markets:
— Taipei closed 0.11 percent higher, adding 8.35 points to 7,578.80.
— Wellington 0.10 percent, or 3.68 points, lower at 3,786.04.

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