MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Asian stock markets mostly flitted between gains and losses Wednesday after an improvement in U.S. service industries reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will reduce monetary stimulus that has propelled stocks higher.
The Institute for Supply Management's services index rose in October despite forecasts it would soften due to last month's partial shutdown of the U.S. government. Investors concluded that it makes it more likely that the Fed will start reducing its bond purchases, which have kept interest rates low, within a few months.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up 0.2 percent to 23,091.45 and China's Shanghai Composite added 0.3 percent to 2,164.64. India's Sensex reversed early losses to rise 0.1 percent to 20,989.24. Benchmarks in Singapore and the Philippines were slightly lower.
Japan's Nikkei 225 defied the narrow range, reversing early losses to rise 0.9 percent to 14,359.57.
"Nobody is buying," said Francis Lun of GE Oriental Financial Group in Hong Kong. "I think the biggest news globally is the IPO debut of Twitter tomorrow," he said.
Other analyst say investors remain cautious ahead of possible market moving data and policy meetings this week.
They include the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday where it may foreshadow a further reduction to record low interest rates and the advance estimate of U.S. third quarter economic growth due the same day. U.S. October jobs figures are due on Friday.
China's leaders are also scheduled to meet in Beijing from Nov. 9-12 to craft a new blueprint for the world's No. 2 economy as its state-led growth model runs out of oomph.
On Wall Street, stocks took a break from a record-breaking run.
Some weak corporate earnings reports on Tuesday held the market back, pushing the major indexes slightly lower.
The S&P 500 index dropped 4.96 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,762.97. The index is nine points below its record close of 1,771.95 set Oct. 29.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 20.90 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,618.22. The Nasdaq composite added 3.27, or less than 0.1 percent, at 3,939.86.
Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 50 cents at $93.87 in electronic trading at the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.25 to $93.37 a barrel on Monday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3510 from $1.3476 late Tuesday. The dollar rose to 98.74 yen from 98.51 yen.