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Asia-Pacific stocks mixed; Kakao Pay shares soar in South Korea debut

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday morning trade as investors look ahead to the end of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting for clues on tapering.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia led gains among the region’s major markets as it jumped about 1.2%, with shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and BHP rising at least 1% each.

In South Korea, the Kospi declined 0.72%. Shares of Kakao Pay surged in their Wednesday debut as they more than doubled from their issue price of 90,000 Korean won. The stock was last trading around 108% higher than its issue price.

Kakao Games also surged 3.94%, while Kakao Corp shares dipped 1.56% and Kakao Bank dropped 4.68%.

Elsewhere, mainland Chinese stocks nudged higher, with the Shanghai composite hovering above the flatline while the Shenzhen component climbed 0.314%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index stood little changed.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.1% higher.

Markets in Japan are closed on Wednesday for a holiday.

The Federal Reserve concludes its two-day meeting on Wednesday stateside, with investors watching out for details surrounding any scaling back of the amount of bonds the central bank buys each month.

China services activity for October

A private survey released Wednesday showed growing Chinese services activity in October, with the Caixin/Markit services Purchasing Managers’ Index coming in at 53.8, rising from September’s reading of 53.4.

China’s official non-manufacturing PMI for October came in at 52.4 over the weekend, a decline from the September reading of 53.2.

PMI readings below 50 represent contraction while those above that level signify expansion. PMI readings are sequential and represent month-on-month expansion or contraction.

Wall Street rises to record highs again

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 climbed 0.37% to 4,630.65 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 138.79 points to 36,052.63. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.34% to 15,649.60.

Tuesday marked the third session in a row where all three major averages stateside closed at a record.

Oil prices drop more than 1%

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 1.42% to $83.52 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dropped 1.75% to $82.44 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 94.085 after a recent climb from levels below 93.9.

The Japanese yen traded at 113.91 per dollar, weaker than levels below 113.6 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7435 after yesterday’s drop from above $0.752.

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