Investors watch US dollar and the Federal Reserve

Asia opened lower on Monday, with markets focus on the sliding dollar and the upcoming two-day policy meeting from the Fed later in the week.

In Australia, the ASX 200’s slipped 0.81 percent to 5,676.4 with most sectors trading lower. The heavily-weighted financials subindex was down 1 percent as major banking stocks came under pressure. Shares of ANZ was down 1 percent, Commonwealth Bank fell 0.88 percent, Westpac lower by 0.99 percent and the National Australia Bank slid 1.07 percent.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.86 percent to 19,926.49, while the Topix index was down 0.93 percent at 1,614.96. Across the Korean strait, the Kospi was down 0.15 percent.

In the currency market, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 93.850, declining from levels above 95.00 traded in the previous week.

Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a Monday note that the dollar weakness seen last week was due to “disparate events combine(d) into a perfect maelstrom — failure of the Senate healthcare bill, widening investigations in Trump’s business interests,” and optimistic policy tones from the European Central Bank and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Elsewhere, the Japanese yen traded at 110.89 to the dollar, strengthening from an earlier low of 111.19, and the Australian dollar fetched $0.7916.

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