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Asian Stocks End Mixed Ahead Of Fed Announcement

Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday, as political concerns regarding France and the Netherlands tempered gains following a slew of strong U.S. corporate results, including Apple's forecast-beating second-quarter earnings.

While a positive performance on Wall Street overnight and successful bond auctions in the euro-zone helped stocks turn upward early in the session, signs that the Dutch crisis is getting worse capped gains. Investors also kept an eye on the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy announcement and the accompanying press conference later in the global day for clues on the prospects of further monetary easing.

Tokyo stocks snapped a four-day losing streak, with tech stocks gaining ground after Apple reported robust earnings for the quarter through March, reflecting growing demand for its popular iPhone, iPad and Mac computers. Advantest jumped nearly 3 percent and Tokyo Electron gained 1.5 percent, while Foster Electric, which makes headphones for Apples iPhones and iPods, soared 4.6 percent. The Nikkei average added a percent, while the broader Topix index ended 0.7 percent higher.

KDDI rose 0.6 percent, Canon added 1.5 percent and Fanuc climbed 2.7 percent ahead of their earnings results after the closing bell. After the market close, Canon posted flat quarterly earnings and increased its full-year profit forecast by 16 percent, with a weaker yen expected to lift its bottomline.

Realtors like Mitsui Fudosan and Nomura Real Estate Holdings and brokerage Nomura Holdings rose about 2 percent each, as speculation gained ground that the Bank of Japan will loosen its monetary policy at its rate-setting meeting next week. Exporter Fujitsu rose 1.3 percent and Hino Motors gained 2 percent after the yen dropped against most of its peers on the prospects of further monetary easing at the central bank's policy board meeting Friday.

China's Shanghai Composite index rose 0.8 percent, with property developers such as China Vanke and Shanghai Xinmei Real Estate leading the gainers on expectations of further policy easing.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged erased early gains to end 0.2 percent lower, with Chinese internet firm Tencent Holdings tumbling 4.7 percent after Baidu Inc., owner of China's dominant Internet search engine, forecast a second-quarter revenue range at the low end of Wall Street expectations.

South Korea's Kospi average ended largely unchanged, reversing early gains, as persisting euro zone debt concerns offset the optimism generated by solid corporate earnings. Cyclicals such as builders fell for a fifth consecutive session, with Samsung Engineering and GS Construction plunging more than 6 percent each. Shares of LG Electronics fell 1.3 percent. The world's second-largest television maker more than trebled its quarter net profit, thanks to a revival in its mobile phone business and a pick up in high-end TV sales.

In economic news, confidence among South Korean consumers climbed to the highest level in 11 months in April, a report from the Bank of Korea showed. The consumer confidence index rose to 104 in April from 101 in March, with confidence rising for a third straight month. The latest figure was the highest since May last year.

Elsewhere, Australian and New Zealand markets were closed for a holiday. India's Sensex was last trading down 0.3 percent after Standard and Poor's downgraded India's long-term rating outlook to "negative" from "stable," citing the worsening fiscal situation and political constraints for pursuing economic reforms.

Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was down 0.2 percent and Malaysia's KLSE Composite edged down 0.2 percent, but Singapore's Straits Times index rose 0.2 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average ended 0.9 percent higher.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a lackluster performance overnight, as a mixed batch of economic data on consumer confidence and new home sales coupled with caution ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement as well as Chairmen Ben Bernanke's accompanying press conference on Wednesday prompted investors to remain on the sidelines. Weakness in Apple's shares sent the tech-heavy Nasdaq down 0.3 percent, while the Dow rose 0.6 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.4 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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