TOKYO: The Nikkei hit a more than two-week low on Wednesday as investors looked ahead warily to the outcome of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, seeking more clues on when policymakers will wind down stimulus and lift interest rates.
The benchmark closed down 0.67% at 29,639.40, while the broader Topix slid 1.02% to end at 2,043.55, also the lowest since Sept. 6.
The Nikkei briefly changed course earlier in the day to trade higher after China Evergrande’s main unit, Hengda Real Estate Group, said it would pay some bond interest due on Thursday, allaying fears of an imminent collapse.
That still did not push the Nikkei above 30,000, after it lost that level on Tuesday, the start of a holiday-shortened week, according to Shigetoshi Kamada, general manager at the research department of Tachibana Securities.
“That is because investor focus is on the Fed meeting... how the interest rate projections will look like and whether the Fed will start tapering before the end of the year,” he said.
The outcome of the Fed’s two-day meeting is scheduled at 1800 GMT with a news conference half an hour later.
Japanese markets will be closed for another holiday on Thursday.
Trading houses led the decline in Japanese equities, dropping 2.37%. Itochu was the worst performer among the Topix’s 30 core names, losing 4.08%, while Mitsui & Co slid 2.86%.
Machinery makers also fell, with Daikin Industries shedding 2.94%.
Mizuho Financial slipped 1.22% after a report that the regulator would oversee system management at the banking group following a series of technical failures.
Peer Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group gained 1.42% after it said it would pull back from U.S. retail banking with the $8 billion sale of MUFG Union Bank.
Some heavyweight names were among the other top gainers. Start-up investor Soft Bank Group advanced 1.9% and Uniqlo clothing shop-owner Fast Retailing gained 1.78%. Nintendo rose 1.1%.