Asian shares slip after mixed Wall Street session

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(Reuters) – Asian equities slipped on Wednesday after most U.S. stocks pared gains made during their recent rally, although the Nasdaq benchmark reached its second straight day at a record high as oil prices rose.

Investors adopted a more cautious stance as attention turned to the U.S. Federal Reserve, which wraps up its two-day meeting later on Wednesday.

“Markets have taken a pause given the run-up we’ve had in recent weeks,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist at Allianz (DE:ALVG) Investment Management. “If you look at past Fed meetings it has been gloomy so it would be interesting to see the data they put forward given the jobs report.”

Australian S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4%, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.8% and South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 0.3%.

No major policy announcements are expected from the Fed, but the U.S. central bank will issue its first economic projections since December. Investors will be watching as the Fed attempts to gauge the economic cost of widespread pandemic-related lockdowns, as well as any hints of future stimulus.

The Nasdaq’s 0.3% gain came on the back of strong gains in tech-related shares, a day after the index became the first major Wall Street index to confirm a new bull market. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), up 3.2%, gave the Nasdaq its biggest boost on Tuesday.

But the Dow and S&P 500 benchmarks both fell. Financial and industrial shares, which have been among stocks that have surged in recent weeks on hopes of an improved economic outlook, were the biggest drags on the S&P 500 on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.09% and the S&P 500 declined 0.78%.

MSCI (NYSE:MSCI)’s gauge of stocks across the globe fell 0.5%, about 6% below its all-time peak in February.

Oil prices closed higher as concerns about a resurgence in coronavirus cases were offset by recent commitments from the major oil producers to rein in production.

Brent oil futures rose 38 cents to settle at $41.18 a barrel, while U.S. crude settled up 75 cents at $38.94.

In currency markets, the safe-haven yen and Swiss franc both gained against the dollar for a second straight day this week.

The yen rose to one-week highs against the greenback, while the Swiss franc climbed to its highest in more than two months versus the greenback.

Latin American stocks and currencies were down Tuesday as investors cashed in after a recent rally. Regional currencies weakened ahead of the Fed meeting.

The declines weighed on the broader emerging markets shares benchmark, which was up 0.2%. The broader Latin American shares benchmark was down 0.85%.

Gold jumped 1.2% on Tuesday as investors sought refuge in the safe-haven asset as they await remarks from the Fed meeting. U.S. gold futures settled up 1% to $1,721.90 an ounce.