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Asian shares mixed ahead of Fed meeting, U.S.-China talks

Asian shares mixed ahead of Fed meeting, U.S.-China talks
Business
SINGAPORE -- Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday as traders await the conclusion of a Federal Reserve policy meeting and U.S.-China talks.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan s Nikkei 225 index retreated 0.5 per cent to 20,556.54 while South Korea s Kospi climbed 0.9 per cent to 2,203.17. Hong Kong s Hang Seng index gained 0.1 per cent to 27,564.19. The Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.2 per cent to 2,589.70. Australia s S&P ASX 200 added 0.2 per cent to 5,886.70. Stocks were flat in Taiwan but rose in Thailand and Indonesia.

WALL STREET: U.S. indexes reflected a mixed draw of corporate earnings on Tuesday. 3M, the maker of Post-it notes, industrial coatings and ceramics, posted upbeat fourth quarter results. Harley-Davidson reported a drop in sales. Apple announced better-than-expected earnings, and its shares surged 5.7 per cent to $163.50 in after-hours trading. The S&P 500 index retreated 0.1 per cent to 2,640.00 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2 per cent at 24,579.96. The Nasdaq composite, which has many technology stocks, shed 0.8 per cent to 7,028.29. The Russell 2000 index lost 0.1 per cent to 1,471.45.

CHINA-U.S. TRADE: American and Chinese officials will begin two days of trade talks in Washington. President Donald Trump will reportedly meet Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in an attempt to move negotiations forward. But the Justice Department s charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei, its subsidiaries and a top company executive may be a hurdle. China has urged U.S. authorities to end what it called an "unreasonable crackdown" against Huawei, which has been accused of stealing technology and violating sanctions on Iran.

ANALYST S TAKE: "Asia s markets are trading quietly sideways this morning, and we would expect that to be the theme of the day as the event-risk needle swings much higher from tonight in North America," Jeffrey Halley of OANDA said in a market commentary.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 5 cents to $53.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.32 to settle at $53.31 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, picked up 13 cents to $61.33 per barrel. The contract added $1.39 to $61.20 per barrel in London.
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