Asia Pacific markets set to trade cautiously ahead of this week’s Fed meeting

Signage for the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), operated by Japan Exchange Group Inc. (JPX), is displayed outside the bourse in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020.

Akio Kon | Bloomberg via Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets were set to trade cautiously on Monday ahead of this week’s Federal Reserve meeting stateside.

Australian shares slipped in early trade. The benchmark ASX 200 fell 0.26% as the energy sector gained 0.89% while the materials sector was down 1.38%. The heavily-weighted financials subindex fell 0.2%.

Nikkei futures pointed to opening losses in Japan.

The Federal Open Market Committee is due to meet on March 16 and 17 and some analysts expect the U.S. central bank to revise up its GDP forecast, following a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package that will send direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans.

“Some FOMC members might think rates will have to move higher sooner than they anticipated last December,” analysts at ANZ Research wrote in a morning note.

“For the Fed, the robust recovery and any shift in momentum in the dot plot profile will raise communication challenges about how long rates will stay low,” the analysts said.

Every quarter, members of the FOMC forecast where interest rates will go in the short, medium and long term. These projections are represented visually in charts and are called a dot plot.

“[Fed Chair Jerome] Powell is likely to tie the path of rates to a comprehensive economic improvement whilst stressing tolerance for a modest inflation overshoot,’ the ANZ analysts added.

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded near flat at 91.687 against a basket of its peers, slipping from levels above 92.00 last week.

The Japanese yen weakened to the 109 level, trading at 109.11 against the greenback compared to an earlier high around 108.97. Meanwhile, the Australian dollars changed hands at $0.7759.

Oil prices rose Monday during Asian trading hours on the back of growing optimism around demand recovery. U.S. crude was up 0.53% at $65.96 per barrel.

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