Nikkei set to fall as Fed minutes roil global markets; focus on emerging Asia
TOKYO, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average is set to drop on Thursday after the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's last meeting failed to ease concerns of a near-term reduction of it massive stimulus, leaving emerging markets in the region braced for another tumultuous session. Market players said the Nikkei was likely to trade between 13,200 and 13,500 on Thursday. The benchmark Nikkei rose 0.2 percent to 13,424.33 in a choppy session on Wednesday, in an unconvincing rebound from a seven-week low hit the previous day. The broader Topix sagged 0.3 percent to 1,121.74. Nikkei futures in Chicago closed at 13,305 on Wednesday, down 0.7 percent from the Osaka close of 13,400 . The minutes showed members of the Federal Open Market Committee had different opinions as to when the Fed should start winding down its bond purchases. The overall view, however, was that the minutes did not materially change the market's expectation of a September tapering. "As the Fed minutes didn't help to ease the uncertainties over the timing of its plans to taper stimulus, investors in our market will continue to worry about the impact of tapering on emerging markets " said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management. "Their focus once again will be on how other Asian stocks will fare, especially in India and Indonesia." Emerging markets in the region, led by India and Indonesia, have had a torrid time in recent weeks on concerns about a turn in Fed policy. In overnight trading, Wall Street stocks sold off, the U.S. dollar surged and borrowing costs rose globally, a bad cocktail for emerging markets that have come to rely on cheap dollars to underpin domestic demand and fund current account shortfalls. Analysts say investors are also awaiting fresh cues from China's August economic data. The HSBC flash manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI), the earliest indicator of manufacturing activity in the mainland for the month, is due later on Thursday. China is Japan's second biggest export market. The Japanese currency may offer some help to the Nikkei. It was last traded at 97.71 yen against the dollar, pushing further away from a seven-week high of 95.81 yen touched earlier this month. A weaker yen tends to make export-reliant Japan's products more competitive in the global market. The Nikkei is up 29 percent this year, spurred by the Japanese government's fiscal expansionary policy and the Bank of Japan's aggressive monetary stimulus. > Wall St falls after Fed minutes yield few tapering clues > Dollar gains as Fed tapering in Sept still seen likely > U.S. 30-yr treasuries bond yields up to highest in 2 yrs > Gold prices down as Fed minutes show few clues > Oil slips, WTI leads fall as crude flows back to Cushing STOCKS TO WATCH --PANASONIC CORP Panasonic will expand its lithium-ion battery business, which last year added to a near-record net loss but is now contributing to a turnaround strategy targeting the auto sector, people familiar with the plans said on Wednesday.
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