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Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of Fed Policy Decision

Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of a Federal Reserve meeting later in the day and looked for progress in U.S.-China trade talks.

Energy stocks followed oil prices lower after Saudi Arabia said it would be able to meet oil customers' demand from its ample storage.

Chinese shares rose ahead of deputy-level U.S.-China trade talks scheduled to start in Washington on Thursday. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended up 7.54 points, or 0.3 percent, at 2,985.66, although Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged down 36.12 points, or 0.1 percent, to 26,754.12.

Japanese shares fell slightly to snap a ten-day winning streak as investors awaited the outcome of central bank meetings in the U.S. and Japan.

The Bank of Japan is expected to leave its monetary policy unchanged at the end of its two-day meeting on Thursday, but some analysts expect the policy board to add monetary stimulus in some form either this week or at its meeting in October.

The Nikkei 225 Index dipped 40.61 points, or 0.2 percent, to 21,960.71, while the broader Topix closed 0.5 percent lower at 1,606.62.

Oil and gas-related companies paced the decliners, with Inpex losing 4.2 percent and Japan Petroleum declining 1 percent. Sony Corp gave up 2.2 percent after the electronics company rejected a call by activist investor Daniel Loeb to spin off its chips business.

On the economic front, a government report showed that Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 136.329 billion yen in August. That beat forecasts for a shortfall of 365.4 billion yen following the 250.7 billion yen deficit in July.

Australian markets ended modestly lower, with energy stocks pacing the decliners as oil extended overnight losses on news that Saudi Arabia would restore lost oil production by the end of the month.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 13.70 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,681.60 as investors awaited August employment data due on Thursday for further clues as to whether the RBA will loosen monetary policy in the coming months. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 10.50 points, or 0.2 percent, at 6,791.20.

Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search, Origin Energy and Santos declined 2-3 percent. Mining heavyweight BHP slid 0.3 percent, while Rio Tinto gained 0.3 percent and smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group advanced 1.2 percent.

The big four banks fell between 0.2 percent and 0.6 percent. Tech stocks gained ground, with WiseTech Global rising 1.1 percent.

Seoul stocks extended gains for the ninth straight session after Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said that more than half of the country's daily crude oil production that was knocked out by an attack had been recovered and that production capacity at its targeted plants would be fully restored by the end of the month. The benchmark Kospi gained 8.40 points, or 0.4 percent, to finish at 2,070.73.

New Zealand shares fell sharply, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ending down 93.18 points, or 0.9 percent, at 10,774.85, dragged lower by consumer-staple stocks. Heavyweight A2 Milk tumbled 3.9 percent.

Outdoor retailer Kathmandu Holdings soared 6.8 percent after reporting a more than 13 percent increase in full-year profit.

New Zealand had a current account deficit of NZ$759 million in the second quarter of 2019, Statistics New Zealand said today. That beat forecasts for a shortfall of NZ$790 million following the NZ$675 million surplus in the three months prior.

Overnight, U.S. stocks eked out modest gains as President Trump leaned against striking Iran and oil prices dropped after reports that Saudi Arabia was close to restoring 70 percent of its lost production.

Meanwhile, economic reports on industrial production and homebuilder confidence painted a positive picture of the world's largest economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.1 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.3 percent.

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