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Asian Markets Mostly Lower Ahead Of Fed Decision


Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday as investors shift focus from the just concluded U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore to key central bank meetings in the next few days.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points at the end of its two-day policy meeting later on Wednesday, while the European Central Bank has indicated it will discuss ending its bond purchasing program at its meeting on Thursday. The Bank of Japan's policy decision is due on Friday.

The Australian market is modestly lower following the mixed cues from Wall Street after the conclusion of the Trump-Kim summit. Investors now await the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement later in the day. Mining and bank stocks are among the major losers.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 6.70 points or 0.11 percent to 6,047.70, off a low of 6,031.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is losing 6.00 points or 0.10 percent to 6,158.80.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is down 0.5 percent, BHP Billiton is declining 0.6 percent and Fortescue Metals is lower by more than 1 percent as a stronger U.S. dollar weighed on copper prices.

Shares of Atlas Iron are gaining almost 5 percent after Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting reportedly acquired a 19.6 percent stake in the company, just days after Fortescue Metals bought a 15 percent stake.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent, while Westpac is up 0.3 percent.

Oil stocks are also weak despite higher crude oil prices. Santos is declining 0.6 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search is losing more than 1 percent each.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower overnight. Evolution Mining is rising almost 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining is down 0.3 percent.

Office manager Investa Office Fund has agreed to be acquired by U.S. private equity group Blackstone for $3.14 billion. Investa's shares are adding 0.2 percent.

Share of APA Group are losing more than 1 percent following news that the energy infrastructure company has opened its books to a Chinese consortium led by CK Infrastructure Holdings after receiving a A$13 billion takeover proposal.

In economic news, Australia will see June results for the consumer confidence index from Westpac today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7574, down from US$0.7610 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is extending gains from the previous session following the mostly positive cues from Wall Street and on a weaker yen. Nevertheless, investors are cautious ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision due later in the day.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 66.71 points or 0.29 percent to 22,945.06, off a high of 22,976.93 earlier.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic is declining 1 percent and Sony is edging down 0.1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is adding almost 1 percent and Canon is flat.

Automaker Toyota is rising almost 2 percent and Honda is adding more than 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising 0.4 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.2 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is losing more than 2 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is down more than 1 percent even as crude oil prices rose overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Nippon Express is rising 6 percent, while Nippon Yusen and Nippon Electric Glass are adding 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Sumco Corp. is losing more than 3 percent, while Denka Co. and Teijin are down almost 3 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 110 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia and Hong Kong are also lower, while Taiwan is edging higher. Markets in South Korea and Indonesia are closed on Wednesday for holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Tuesday in choppy trading as traders looked ahead to monetary policy announcements by the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. Traders largely shrugged off the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

While the Dow edged down 1.58 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 25,320.73, the Nasdaq climbed 43.87 points or 0.6 percent to 7,703.79 and the S&P 500 rose 4.85 points or 0.2 percent to 2,786.85.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index closed just below the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both fell by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices rose on Tuesday amid indications that Saudi Arabia is ramping up production. WTI crude rose $0.26 to $66.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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