Global stocks decline ahead of US Federal Reserve meeting

Oil prices pulled higher after a sharp fall yesterday on technical selling in a market already anxious about oversupply and following a rise in output from several members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Shares climbed 0.6 percent. The Nasdaq composite gained 2 points to 6,094 after it set a record high Monday.

A currency trader walks by the screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, May 4, 2017.

Elsewhere in Asia, China, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia are also lower. The Japanese market is closed for the rest of this week for the Golden Week holiday.

"The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting some further strengthening in labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation", the Fed added in an announcement released at 18:00 GMT. The pair traded below 1.0890 breaking below the previous session's low of 1.0880. All of which was largely overshadowed by the growing services sector.

"Clearly, the improvement (in broader financial conditions) has been driven by tighter credit spreads and US equity markets hitting all-time highs or approaching them", he added. Chang Hwa Commercial Bank (彰銀) gained 0.85 percent to end at NT$17.75, and Mega Financial Holding Co.

Overall, profits at S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 13.6 percent in the first quarter, the most since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Walt Disney shed $2.97, or 2.6 percent, to $111.41 while CBS sank $3.06, or 4.7 percent, to $62.60 and Viacom lost $2.73, or 6.2 percent, to $41.53 and Twenty-First Century Fox gave up $1.59, or 5.2 percent, to $28.84.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday following the Federal Reserve's widely expected decision to leave interest rates unchanged.

The benchmark S&P 500 reduced its losses following the statement from the USA central bank, which downplayed weak first-quarter economic growth and emphasized the strength of the labor market, in a sign it could tighten monetary policy as early as June.

US stocks were lower in late morning trading on Wednesday as index-heavyweight Apple's disappointing report put a dampener on what has been a largely upbeat earnings season, with major stock indexes hovering near record highs. At 7:35 a.m. HK/SIN, it was at 99.361.

Attention now turns to US non-farm payrolls for March, due on Friday, after separate data showed private employers added 177,000 jobs in April. "That is without any doubt the major element which is sticking out for traders".

In the French elections, the top two presidential rivals go head-to-head on Wednesday in a televised debate in the last encounter before Sunday's run-off in which opinion polls predict a win by centrist Emmanuel Macron. The dollar gained 0.5% on the pound to 1.2868 and nearly 0.4% on the euro to 1.0886.

Chris Weston, chief market strategist at spreadbettor IG, said in a note Thursday that a Le Pen win was a "near armageddon scenario". In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 25.70 points or 0.44 percent to 5,866.60, off a low of 5,863.20 earlier.