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Asian markets mostly higher ahead of Fed decision

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map_rhs_asiaAsian markets mostly advanced Wednesday as investors await the end of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting later in the day, hoping for clues about its plans for interest rates.

Shanghai and Hong Kong were the stand-out performers on hopes of fresh stimulus measures from China, while the dollar edged down as investors kept their powder dry before the Fed announcement.

Japan’s Nikkei index rallied from early losses as Nintendo soared more than 21 percent hitting its daily stop limit, after the company announced plans to enter the mobile gaming market.

Tokyo rose 0.55 percent, or 107.48 points, to 19,544.48, Sydney was marginally higher, edging up 0.18 points to 5,842.30 and Seoul was slightly lower, dipping 1.46 points to 2,028.45.

Shanghai added 2.13 percent, or 74.45 points, to 3,577.30 — its highest close since mid-May 2008 — with investors still buoyed by weekend comments from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that the government was fully equipped to support the economy if it continues to struggle.

Hong Kong gained 0.91 percent, or 218.59 points, to 24,120.08.

“High trading activity means the stock market will be supported,” Yan Liu, a trader at Guosen Securities, said. “Speculation of more stimulus to come is helping to propel the market higher.”

While the Fed is not expected to lift rates Wednesday, global traders are keeping a keen eye on what it has to say about its near-term plans after a recent mixed bag of economic data.

“There are expectations that the word ‘patient’ will disappear from the forward guidance part of the Fed’s statement, while (Fed chief Janet) Yellen will say that they’re not in a hurry to raise rates” at her news conference, said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo.

– Nintendo surges –
On Wall Street Tuesday the Dow dropped 0.71 percent and the S&P 500 shed 0.34 percent in edgy pre-Fed trade, but the Nasdaq closed up 0.16 percent.

In currency markets Wednesday the dollar retreated as investors sat on the sidelines. It bought 121.27 yen in afternoon Tokyo trade, compared with 121.34 yen in New York late Tuesday.

The euro was at $1.0607 and 128.64 yen against $1.0590 and 128.51 yen.

In Japan Nintendo surged 21.3 percent — or by its daily 3,000 yen daily limit — after it announced it would team up with Tokyo-based mobile gaming company DeNA to develop games for smartphones, marking a turning point for the firm, which has long refused to enter the market.

It said it plans to buy 10 percent of DeNA for 22 billion yen with the pair set to create games based on Nintendo’s host of popular characters, which include Super Mario and Pokemon.

Oil prices fell, extending losses in New York before a US government report that is expected to show stockpiles at another record high.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April delivery eased 92 cents to $42.54 while Brent crude for May fell 38 cents to $53.13.

Gold fetched $1,148.43 against $1,153.82 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

— Taipei rose 1.19 percent, or 113.99 points, to 9,653.43.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co closed 3.02 percent higher at Tw$153.5, while Hon Hai Precision Industry added 0.69 percent to Tw$87.9.

— Wellington fell 0.99 percent, or 58.74 points, to 5,846.66.

Air New Zealand slipped 1.93 percent to NZ$2.80 and Spark was off 2.23 percent at NZ$3.075.

— Manila closed 0.42 percent lower, giving up 32.52 points to 7,756.58.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone was down 3.13 percent at 2,784 pesos, universal Robina fell 0.09 percent to 215 pesos and Ayala Land slipped 1.45 percent to 37.40 pesos.

— Bloomberg News contributed to this report —



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