Asian markets end lower

U.S. stock indexes stuck close to their record levels in early trading Monday ahead of a busy week full of events that could swing markets. (AP Ph

Most stock markets across Asia were in the red on 15 March as investors await the outcome of a Federal Reserve interest rate policy meeting.

The 225-issue Nikkei average rose 12.76 points, or 0.07 percent, to close at 19,590.14.

Fast Retailing, the operator of Uniqlo clothing chain, tumbled 1.9 percent and contributed a hefty negative 27 points to the benchmark index.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group shed 1.0 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group dropped 0.6 percent, Dai-ichi Life Holdings stumbled 3.5 percent, Sompo Holdings declined 1.6 percent and T&D Holdings 3 percent.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 0.2 percent to 2,381.38. USA shares were set to drift lower with Dow futures down 0.1 percent and S&P 500 futures 0.2 percent lower. Most investors expect the Fed to raise rates for only the third time since they went to almost zero during the financial crisis in 2008.


Shares in Asia fell early on Wednesday with a widely expected hike in US interest rates later in the day weighing on sentiment. With strong economic reports in recent weeks, expectations that the Fed may stand pat this month have changed.

The dollar briefly plunged below ¥113 in Tokyo trading, dampened by less-hawkish-than-expected interest rate projections by the Federal Reserve. The U.K. government meanwhile could formally begin the process of exiting the European Union. "Europe and Japan have already pushed quantitative easing to the extreme and there is not much room for further easing", says Margaret Yang Yan, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore. The Netherlands has its own election this week, where politicians have also railed against the European Union and immigrants. South Korea's KOSPI lost 0.78 points or 0.04 percent to end at 2,133.00.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 114.89 yen from 114.88 yen while the euro slipped to $1.0628 from $1.0653.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. rose 6 cents to $48.81 a barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price global oils, gained 4 cents to $51.78 a barrel.

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