Asia Markets: Asian markets muted, awaiting upcoming Fed meeting

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, -0.11%

  lost 0.3% in early trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200

XJO, -0.09%

  edged down 0.1% and South Korea’s Kospi

SEU, -0.15%

  inched down less than 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng

HSI, -0.11%

  was about flat, while the Shanghai Composite

SHCOMP, -0.12%

  fell 0.3%.

Among individual stocks, Hitachi

6501, +4.14%

  jumped in Tokyo trading, while Nikon

7731, -2.52%

  and Rakuten

4755, -2.02%

  slid. In Hong Kong, Sino Biopharmaceutical x

2922, +5.27%

  and CSPC Pharmaceutical

1093, +3.30%

  surged, as Sunny

2382, -1.58%

 nd CNOOC

0883, -1.43%

  fell. SK Hynix

000660, -0.44%

  slipped in Korea, as did Taiwan Semiconductor

2330, -0.41%

  in Taiwan. Beach Energy

BPT, -3.24%

 tumbled in Australia, while Rio Tinto

RIO, +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, -0.05%

  slipped 3 cents to $59.06 a barrel. It rose 1 percent to $59.09 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude

LCOK9, +0.13%

  gained 1 cent to $67.55 a barrel.

The dollar

USDJPY, -0.14%

  fell to 111.21 yen from 111.56 yen Monday.

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