Asian stocks down ahead of Fed meeting


BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets fell Tuesday following Wall Street’s decline as jittery investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates and Britain’s vote on European Union membership.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 1.3 percent to 15,812.61 points and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 2 percent to 5,207.00. Seoul’s Kospi retreated 0.3 percent to 1,973.20, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.3 percent to 20,452.05 and India’s Sensex lost 0.1 percent to 26,373.33. Benchmarks in New Zealand, Singapore and the Philippines also declined. The Shanghai Composite Index was unchanged at 2,834.29.

WALL STREET: Markets fell for a third day as investors awaited the Fed’s decision on interest rates and Britain’s EU referendum. LinkedIn shares jumped 47 percent after Microsoft announced plans to buy the professional social networking company. Firearms makers climbed as investors wondered whether Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando would lead to greater sales. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 132.86 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,732.48. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 17.01 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,079.06 and the Nasdaq composite fell 46.11 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,848.44.

FED WATCH: The Fed had been expected to raise interest rates but now appears likely to wait and see how economic changes develop. The central bank’s two-day meeting starts Tuesday, with a decision on interest rates Wednesday. While last month many investors were betting that the Fed would hike rates, the two most recent monthly U.S. jobs reports put a damper on those expectations.

BREXIT: Stocks are under pressure from uncertainty about whether British voters will choose to leave the European Union in a June 23 referendum. Some polls show a majority are in favor of leaving, known informally as Brexit. Germany’s DAX closed down 1.8 percent, France’s CAC-40 fell 1.9 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 lost 1.2 percent.

CHINA WEAKNESS: Factory output and investment in May were weaker than expected, possibly hurt by slow foreign and domestic demand. Industrial production held steady at 6 percent. Growth in investment in factories and other fixed assets weakened to 9.6 percent in the January-May period from 10.5 percent for the four months through April. “Momentum appears to be stalling after a solid start to 2016,” said Mizuho Bank in a report.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 46 cents to $48.42 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 19 cents on Monday to close at $48.88. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 40 cents to $49.95 per barrel in London. It shed 19 cents on Monday to $50.35.

CURRENCY: The dollar held steady at 105.96 yen. The euro edged down to $1.1286 from $1.1293.