Asia Markets: Asian markets mostly higher ahead of Fed meeting, latest trade talks

Asian markets mostly rose Wednesday as traders awaited a Federal Reserve policy meeting and U.S.-China talks, though Japan’s benchmark declined.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index

NIK, -0.52%

  retreated 0.3% while South Korea’s Kospi

SEU, +1.05%

  climbed 0.5%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index

HSI, +0.08%

  gained 0.2%. while the Shanghai Composite index

SHCOMP, -0.72%

  edged up 0.1%. Australia’s S&P ASX 200

XJO, +0.21%

  was about flat. Stocks rose in Southeast Asia and Taiwan

Y9999, +0.01%

 .

Among individual stocks, Sony

6758, -1.27%

 , Toyota

7267, -0.12%

  and SoftBank

9984, -0.76%

  all slipped in Tokyo trading. In Seoul, SK Hynix

000660, +3.41%

  and Posco

005490, +6.15%

  jumped. Real estate companies led gains in Hong Kong, with Country Garden

2007, +4.68%

 , China Resources Land

1109, +3.05%

  and China Overseas Land & Investment

0688, +2.66%

  rising. Mining stocks surged in Australia, with Rio Tinto

RIO, +4.51%

 , Fortescue Mining

FMG, +7.75%

  and BHP

BHP, +2.55%

  posting big gains.

U.S. indexes reflected a mixed draw of corporate earnings on Tuesday. 3M

MMM, +1.94%

 , the maker of Post-it notes, industrial coatings and ceramics, posted upbeat fourth quarter results. Harley-Davidson

HOG, -5.05%

  reported a drop in sales. Apple

AAPL, -1.04%

  announced better-than-expected earnings, and its shares surged 5.7% to $163.50 in after-hours trading. The S&P 500 index

SPX, -0.15%

  retreated 0.1% to 2,640.00 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.21%

  was up 0.2% at 24,579.96. The Nasdaq composite

COMP, -0.81%

 shed 0.8% to 7,028.29.

All eyes are on a Federal Open Market Committee meeting ending Wednesday. Although the Fed is expected to leave its short-term interest rate unchanged, the nuances of a press conference by Chairman Jerome Powell will be closely watched.

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.

“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.

Benchmark U.S. crude

CLH9, -0.06%

  rose 15 cents to $53.46 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

LCOH9, -0.02%

 , used to price international oils, picked up 21 cents to $61.41 per barrel. The contract added $1.39 to $61.20 per barrel in London.

The dollar

USDJPY, -0.11%

  eased to 109.34 yen from 109.35 yen late Tuesday.

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