TOKYO (dpa-AFX) - The Japanese stock market is little changed in choppy trading on Wednesday following the modest gains overnight on Wall Street and on caution ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision due later in the day.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan will wrap up its monetary policy meeting on Thursday. The central bank is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at -0.1 percent, although it may introduce other means of stimulus.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 5.17 points or 0.02 percent to 22,006.49, after touching a low of 21,962.73 in early trades. Japanese shares closed marginally higher on Tuesday.
Among oil stocks, Inpex is losing almost 5 percent and Japan Petroleum is lower by almost 3 percent after crude oil prices plunged overnight.
The major exporters are lower despite a slightly weak yen. Sony is losing more than 2 percent, Canon is declining almost 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is lower by 0.6 percent and Panasonic is down 0.5 percent.
In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding 0.3 percent. In the auto sector, Toyota Motor is higher by 0.3 percent, while Honda Motor is declining more than 1 percent.
Market heavyweight SoftBank is declining more than 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is adding 0.6 percent.
Among the other major gainers, Ajinomoto Co. is rising almost 3 percent, while Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Nichirei Corp. are advancing more than 2 percent each.
On the flip side, JFE Holdings is losing almost 5 percent, while Fujikura and IHI Corp. are lower by almost 4 percent each.
On the economic front, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 136.329 billion yen in August. That beat forecasts for a shortfall of 365.4 billion yen following the 250.7 billion yen deficit in July.
Exports were down 8.2 percent on year to 6.140 trillion yen, also topping expectations for a decline of 10.9 percent following the 1.5 percent annual drop in the previous month. Imports sank an annual 12.0 percent versus forecasts for a decline of 11.0 percent after easing 1.2 percent a month earlier.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 108 yen-range on Wednesday.
On Wall Street, stocks closed modestly higher on Tuesday in a choppy trading session as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves ahead of Wednesday's monetary policy decision by the Federal Reserve. Uncertainty about the U.S. response to the recent attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities also kept some traders on the sidelines.
The Dow inched up 33.98 points or 0.1 percent to 27,110.80, the Nasdaq climbed 32.47 points or 0.4 percent to 8,186.02 and the S&P 500 rose 7.74 points or 0.3 percent to 3,005.70.
The major European markets ended mixed on Tuesday. While the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed just below the unchanged line and the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent.
Crude oil prices retreated on Tuesday, reacting to news that Saudi Arabia has restored about half the production lost in the attacks last weekend. Crude oil for October delivery plunged $3.56 or 5.7 percent to $59.34 a barrel.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX