Stocks in Asia's emerging markets rose in cautious trading on Wednesday, as investors refrained from placing big bets ahead of the US Federal Reserve's policy meeting outcome, where they will be looking for any hints of faster policy tightening.
Equities in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei rose between 0.3 per cent and 0.9 per cent after a volatile overnight session on Wall Street.
The Fed is expected to update its monetary policy plan later on Wednesday, with market participants awaiting clues on the pace of interest rate hikes and a timeline for policy normalization.
Balanced current accounts, largely lower inflationary pressures and the stability provided by the resilient Chinese yuan to regional currencies have ensured that most Asian central banks have not been pressured to pursue interest rate hikes as aggressively as their peers in Europe and Latin America.
However, Fed tightening is putting pressure on some central banks in Asia to follow suit, potentially hurting their equity markets as happened in 2013 when the US central bank began tapering its post financial crisis stimulus.
"The recent central bank actions in Asia suggest that they may want to prepare for a Fed that is more hawkish than currently expected," said Frances Cheung, Rates Strategist at OCBC Bank.
"The pre-emptive tightening provides them with some flexibility to quicken their own tightening paths if there is any upside surprises from the Fed."
On Tuesday, Singapore's central bank tightened its monetary policy settings in its first out-of-cycle move in seven years, a day after the city-state reported core inflation at an eight-year high.
Adding to existing pressures, a senior International Monetary Fund official on Tuesday said that expected interest rate hikes by the Fed may delay emerging Asia's economic recovery and keep pressure on policymakers to guard against the risk of capital outflows.
Meanwhile, the Philippine economy grew 6.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2021 from a year earlier, lower than the previously-reported growth estimate of 7.1 per cent, sending the country's shares down 0.9 per cent. The peso fell 0.2 per cent.
The dollar index, which measures the currency against six major peers, was flat at 95.953, while currencies in Asia were largely subdued.
Malaysia's ringgit, Indonesia's rupiah and China's yuan all traded flat. Thailand's baht was an outlier, gaining 0.4 per cent.
Financial markets in India are closed on Wednesday for a holiday.