Asian markets muted, awaiting upcoming Fed meeting

Asian markets muted, awaiting upcoming Fed meeting

Most benchmarks down slightly in early trading

Asian shares mostly fell in muted trading Tuesday as investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting later in the week.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 NIK, -0.08%   lost 0.3% in early trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.09%   edged down 0.1% and South Korea’s KospiSEU, -0.09%   inched down less than 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, +0.19%   was about flat, while the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.18%   fell 0.3%.

Among individual stocks, Hitachi 6501, +4.20%   jumped in Tokyo trading, while Nikon 7731, -2.64%   and Rakuten 4755, -2.02%   slid. In Hong Kong, Sino Biopharmaceutical x 2922, +5.13%   and CSPC Pharmaceutical 1093, +3.30%   surged, as Sunny 2382, -1.12%  nd CNOOC 0883, -1.00%   fell. SK Hynix 000660, +0.29%   slipped in Korea, as did Taiwan Semiconductor 2330, -0.21%   in Taiwan. Beach Energy BPT, -3.24%  tumbled in Australia, while Rio TintoRIO, +1.70%   and BHP BHP, +1.65%   gained.

U.S. stock indexes finished modestly higher Monday, extending the market’s solid gains from a rally last week.

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.37%   gained 10.46 points, or 0.4%, to 2,832.94. The benchmark index is now up 13% 2019 so far, which is a bigger gain than it’s had in four of the last five full years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.25%   rose 65.23 points, or 0.3%, to 25,914.10.

The Nasdaq composite COMP, +0.34%   added 25.95 points, or 0.3%, to 7,714.48.

On market players’ mind is the Federal Reserve meeting later in the week, and speculation it may slow its pace of increases for interest rates. The worry in December was that the central bank would raise rates too fast in the face of a slowing global economy and choke off growth. The Fed will meet to discuss interest-rate policy this week, with an announcement scheduled for Wednesday, but economists expect it to announce no change to rates.

Some economists say the Fed could release documents Wednesday that would suggest one rate increase in 2019, or possibly zero, after the Fed raised rates four times in 2018 and three times in 2017.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil CLJ9, +0.51%   slipped 3 cents to $59.06 a barrel. It rose 1 percent to $59.09 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude LCOK9, +0.59%   gained 1 cent to $67.55 a barrel.

The dollar USDJPY, -0.18%   fell to 111.21 yen from 111.56 yen Monday.

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