- Asian shares retreat, Wall Street mainly unchanged
- Oil prices drop on demand concerns
- Egypt’s EGX30 drops 1.8 percent
- Dollar rises, gold drops
Asian shares dropped from their 2019 highs on Wednesday on profit-taking, with most investors cautious ahead of the the publication of results from the United States’ Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.4 percent, led by losses in Australia and South Korea.
Overnight on Wall Street, stocks traded narrowly, with the S&P 500 losing 0.01 percent and the Nasdaq gaining 0.12 percent.
Some market players said selling was triggered by a report of U.S. concerns that China is pushing back against American demands in trade talks, according to Reuters.
“China is eager to come to an agreement so I’m not too worried. As long as they are holding meetings, many things will work out,” Wang Shenshen, strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center, told Reuters.
Oil prices dropped on a lower demand outlook, fuelled by economic growth concerns.
U.S. manufacturing output fell for a second straight month in February, in a sign that the world’s biggest economy has been slowing down in the first quarter.
In Asia, Japan’s exports fell for a third straight month in February in a sign of growing strain from slowing global demand.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due to publish its weekly crude production and storage level report at around 1700 GMT on Wednesday.
International Brent crude oil futures stood at $67.50 a barrel at 0222 GMT, down 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close. Brent touched $68.20 a barrel on Tuesday, its highest level since November 16.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.83 per barrel, down 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement. WTI hit a high of $59.57 a barrel on Tuesday, the highest since November 12.
Middle East markets
Egypt’s blue-chip index EGX30 fell 1.8 percent, with 29 of its 30 stocks declining as Commercial International Bank slipped 1.8 percent and Global Telecom declined 5.8 percent.
In Dubai, the index was up 0.8 percent, boosted by real estate and banking shares. The emirate's largest lender, Emirates NBD, rose 1.5 percent and Emaar Properties added 2.1 percent.
Abu Dhabi’s index edged up 0.3 percent as First Abu Dhabi Bank the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, moved 0.3 percent higher.
Qatar's index edged 0.2 percent lower with the Middle East's biggest lender, Qatar National Bank, shedding 1.2 percent.
Saudi Arabia's index edged up 0.1 percent, Kuwait’s premier market index rose 1.1 percent, Bahrain’s index added 0.5 percent and Oman’s index rose 0.7 percent.
The dollar rose on Wednesday, as investors dumped equities.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was almost 0.1 percent higher at 96.454.
Gold prices dropped on a stronger dollar.
Spot gold was down about 0.2 percent at $1,304.27 per ounce as of 0105 GMT.
U.S. gold futures also dipped about 0.2 percent to $1,304.50 an ounce.
(Reporting by Gerard Aoun; Editing by Michael Fahy)
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