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Asian stocks follow Wall Street lower before US Fed release

BEIJING (AP) — Asia stock markets followed Wall Street lower Wednesday as investors looked ahead to a speech by the Federal Reserve chairman for signs of possible plans for more U.S. interest rate cuts.

Benchmarks in Tokyo, Shanghai and Australia declined while South Korea was little-changed. U.S. stocks fell Tuesday after another slide in bond yields and a mixed batch of corporate earnings. Financial sector stocks led the declines.

Investors looked ahead to the Fed's release Wednesday of notes from its policymaking meeting last month and a speech Friday by chairman Jerome Powell. Markets have "entered a holding pattern" ahead of Powell's speech at an annual gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a report.

Investors expect Powell to signal the Fed "is about to embark on a reinvigorated wave of easing," said Halley. However, he said U.S. data "simply does not support the need for an aggressive easing cycle."

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5 points to 2,880.52 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.4% to 20,603.43. Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up 0.1% to 26,260.52. Seoul's Kospi gained 0.5 points to 1,961.02 while Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 fell 1.1% to 6,473.00. India's Sensex gained 10 points to 37,338.00.

Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets retreated. On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index snapped a three-day winning streak Tuesday and fell 0.8% to 2,900.51. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.7% to 25,962.44. The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.7% to 7,948.56.

The U.S. market has been volatile this month as investors try to parse conflicting signals on the U.S. economy and determine whether a recession is on the horizon. A key concern is that the U.S.-Chinese tariff war will weigh on global economic growth.

Some chipmakers rose on Monday's news the Trump administration delayed enforcement of export curbs on U.S. technology sales to Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies Ltd. Qualcomm added 1.6%.

Last week, many stock indexes around the world hit their lowest points of the year before rallying. Analysts say the concerns that drove that sell-off could resurface at any time. ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 21 cents to $56.34 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 1 cent on Tuesday to close at $56.13. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 31 cents to $60.34 per barrel in London. The contract advanced 27 cents the previous session to $60.03.

CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 106.47 yen from Tuesday's 106.22. The euro was lower at $1.1095.

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