Nikkei ends at 13-month low in cautious trading ahead of Fed decision

The Nikkei index ended at its lowest level in nearly 13 months on Wednesday, as caution grew ahead of the conclusion later in the day of a two-day U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 120.01 points, or 0.44 percent, from Tuesday at 27,011.33, its lowest closing level since Dec. 28, 2020. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 4.77 points, or 0.25 percent, lower at 1,891.85.
Decliners were led by oil and coal product, pulp and paper, as well as textile and apparel issues.
The Nikkei gradually trimmed earlier losses in the afternoon after briefly dipping below the 27,000 line for the second straight day, though it failed to rally back above last year's low of 27,013.25 logged on Aug. 20, 2021.
The benchmark index has been volatile recently as investors are fretting over a hawkish move at the Fed meeting. They are focused on whether the central bank will speed up its monetary tightening amid rising inflation in the United States, brokers said.
"Investors have been overly pessimistic in recent days, as they do not have clues about what the Fed will do" due to not being able to get comments from members during a blackout period, said Toshikazu Horiuchi, an equity strategist at IwaiCosmo Securities Co.
Rate hikes lead to higher borrowing costs for companies and households, adding to worries that the moves may trigger an economic slowdown, brokers added.
On the First Section, declining issues outnumbered advancers 1,160 to 917, while 107 ended unchanged.
Some transportation shares finished lower on concerns that people will refrain from traveling due to a recent surge in coronavirus infections in Japan.
Newly confirmed COVID-19 infections in the country topped 60,000 for the first time on Tuesday, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant has driven the acceleration of cases in recent weeks.
ANA Holdings dropped 9.5 yen, or 0.4 percent, to 2,376.0 yen, while Odakyu Electric Railway fell 58 yen, or 2.8 percent, to 2,021 yen.
Some technology shares tracked an overnight decline in their U.S. counterparts. Panasonic dropped 3.5 yen, or 0.3 percent, to 1,265.5 yen, while Ricoh sagged 56 yen, or 5.3 percent, to 994 yen.
In the exchange market, the U.S. dollar was little changed in the upper 113 yen range as investors took a wait-and-see attitude ahead of the outcome of the U.S. central bank meeting.
Trading volume on the main section fell to 1,033.47 million shares from Tuesday's 1,320.31 million shares.

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