Asian stocks fell before a Bank of Japan policy decision as material and energy shares led the decline.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.2 percent to 127.66 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo. A rally since mid-February has pared the measure’s loss for 2016 to 3.3 percent, spurred by a rebound in commodity prices and banking shares. The BOJ ends a two-day meeting Tuesday with investors continuing to question whether monetary policy has lost its sway, while attention then shifts to the Federal Reserve for indications on the pace of U.S. interest-rate increases.
Thirty-five of 40 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predict the BOJ will keep policy unchanged. The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to make its rate decision on Wednesday. Fed funds futures indicate there’s only a 4 percent chance the Fed will increase borrowing costs this week, down from 12 percent at the start of this month.
Japan’s Topix index lost 0.2 percent. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.2 percent and New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 0.6 percent.
Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index were little changed in most recent trading, while contracts on the FTSE China A-50 Index added 0.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.8 percent on Monday after the new head of the securities regulator signaled he will keep propping up the equity market and developers announced acquisitions.