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Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of Fed Decision

asiancommentary jan02 16sep20 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday, with investors turning cautious ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision due later in the day. This is the Fed's first meeting since adopting a more relaxed approach on inflation and pledging to keep interest rates low for longer.

While the Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, investors are likely to pay close attention to any tweaks to the accompanying statement. The central bank's latest economic projections may also attract attention.

Shares in China and Hong Kong ended lower after three straight sessions of gains, as investors turned cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement.

China's Shanghai Composite Index lost 11.76 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 3,283.92, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged down 7.13 points to 24,725.63.

Japanese shares edged higher as Yoshihide Suga was elected Japan's prime minister in a parliamentary vote, succeeding Shinzo Abe. Meanwhile, the Japanese yen rose against the dollar ahead of the U. S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index added 20.64 points, 0.1 percent, to settle at 23,475.53, and the broader Topix rose 3.51 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,644.35.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group gained 4.6 percent, while Fast Retailing dropped 0.6 percent.

In economic news, Japan had a merchandise trade surplus of 248.299 billion yen in August. That was well above expectations for a deficit of 37.5 billion yen following the 11.6 billion yen surplus in July.

Exports were down 14.8 percent on year to 5.232 trillion yen, beating forecasts for a fall of 16.1 percent. Imports tumbled an annual 20.8 percent to 4.984 trillion yen versus expectations for a fall of 18.0 percent.

Australian stocks closed notably higher, with tech and oil stocks among the leading gainers. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 61.30 points, or 1.0 percent, to close at 5,956.10, and the broader All Ordinaries Index surged up 67.60 points, or 1.1 percent, to 6,146.90.

In the tech space, Afterpay gained 4.0 percent, WiseTech Global added 1.3 percent and Appen advanced 0.9 percent.

Among oil stocks, Santos climbed 1.8 percent, Woodside Petroleum rose 1.2 percent and Oil Search advanced 1.1 percent.

New Zealand shares rebounded from the previous session's losses to close higher. The benchmark NZX 50 Index ended up 43.96 points, or 0.4 percent, at 11,814.71. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 1.1 percent and Spark added 1.0 percent.

Seoul stocks snapped a four-day winning streak on profit taking. The benchmark Kospi dipped 7.66 points, or 0.3 percent, to finish at 2,435.92.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics closed unchanged, while chipmaker SK Hynix slipped 0.5 percent and internet portal giant Naver declined 1.6 percent.

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