TOKYO — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Wednesday, taking in stride the IMF's lower global growth forecast, while Japan traded cautiously as its central bank left monetary policy unchanged.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3 percent to 18,129.00 while South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4 percent at 1,999.12. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.9 percent to 22,022.24. China's markets are closed until Thursday. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was little changed while benchmarks in Singapore and Indonesia rose.
GROWTH DOWNGRADE: China's slowdown and tumbling commodity prices will push global economic growth this year to the lowest level since the 2009 recession, the International Monetary Fund says. The fund forecasts the world economy to grow 3.1 percent this year, down from a July forecast of 3.3 percent and from 3.4 percent growth last year. The IMF expects Chinese economic growth to drop to a 25-year low 6.8 percent this year, but that is unchanged from its July forecast.
QUOTE-WORTHY: "Market reaction to the IMF's latest report is rather muted, although it will likely weigh on sentiments in the longer term," said IG market strategist Bernard Aw in Singapore. "It is no secret that the IMF wants the Fed to delay its planned rate hike until next year. And the economic undercurrents increasingly lean toward that direction."
BANK OF JAPAN: The Bank of Japan ended a policy board meeting with no change to its already lavish policy of monetary stimulus. There was market speculation the BOJ would announce new stimulus measures but many economists didn't expect a move at Wednesday's meeting. Japan's economy may slip into recession again this quarter, jeopardizing government and central bank plans to generate 2 percent inflation and end economic stagnation.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks were lower as investors stayed in standby mode, with the closely watched minutes from the Federal Reserve's September meeting coming out on Thursday and third-quarter company earnings just around the corner. The Dow Jones industrial average added 13.76 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,790.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 7.13 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,979.92 and the Nasdaq composite lost 32.90 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,748.36.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 57 cents at $49.11 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $2.27 to close at $48.53 a barrel on Tuesday in New York. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils, was up 36 cents at $52.81 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar was trading at 119.96 yen, down from 120.26 yen in the previous trading session. The euro rose to $1.1271 from $1.1268.