Asian markets mixed as all eyes turn to the Fed

Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday. Earlier they were mostly lower, taking a lead from declines overnight in the United States. In the absence of further developments on the US-China trade war, investors appear to be shifting their focus to what Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will have to say Friday at an economic meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Japan’s Nikkei (N225) dropped 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) rose 0.3%. South Korea’s Kospi (KOSPI) was also up 0.2%. China’s Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) traded flat.

“There is a definite feeling that markets have entered a holding pattern” ahead of what Powell has to say, wrote Jeffrey Halley, Oanda’s senior market analyst for Asia Pacific, in a research note. Investors strongly expect the Fed will cut rates in September. The US central bank will also release minutes Wednesday from its most recent meeting, when the central bank cut rates by a quarter percentage point for the first time since 2008.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi sank 5.4% in Hong Kong. The company reported late Tuesday that revenue reached 51.95 billion yuan ($7.36 billion) in the second quarter, lower than what analysts expected, according to Refinitiv. The company posted a net profit of 1.95 billion yuan ($277 million) in the quarter — an 87% plunge from a year earlier. The company guided investors to an adjusted profit figure that beat expectations.

Competition in the Chinese smartphone market is especially fierce, and Xiaomi has lost market share to rivals such as Huawei.

Geely Auto, China’s largest privately-owned car maker, traded flat in Hong Kong.

The company reported a 40% drop in net profit for the first half, citing “a drastic slowdown” in China’s car demand. The drop was line with a profit warning the company released last month. The company’s stock has fallen nearly 17% since the beginning of July.