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ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Muted, Awaiting Upcoming Fed Meeting

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03/19/2019 | 09:27am EDT

By Associated Press and Marketwatch

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 finished flat. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was also unchanged and South Korea's Kospi inched down less than 0.1%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2%, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.2%.

Among individual stocks, Hitachi jumped in Tokyo trading, while Nikon and Rakuten slid. In Hong Kong, Sino Biopharmaceutical x(1177.HK) and CSPC Pharmaceutical surged, as Sunny nd CNOOC fell. SK Hynix slipped in Korea, as did Taiwan Semiconductor in Taiwan. Beach Energy tumbled in Australia, while Rio Tinto and BHP gained.

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

The S&P 500 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 rose 65.23 points, or 0.3%, to 25,914.10.

   The Nasdaq composite   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 rose 18 cents to $59.27 a barrel. It rose 1 percent to $59.09 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude gained 34 cents to $67.88 a barrel.

   The dollar   fell to 111.21 yen from 111.56 yen Monday. 

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
BEACH ENERGY LTD -3.01% 1.775 End-of-day quote.36.06%
BHP GROUP LTD -0.35% 40.16 End-of-day quote.17.73%
CHINA-SHANGHAI COMP -0.99% 2881.97 End-of-day quote.15.38%
CNOOC LTD 0.16% 12.34 End-of-day quote.1.48%
CSPC PHARMACEUTICAL GROUP LTD -1.04% 11.44 End-of-day quote.1.60%
DJ INDUSTRIAL -0.07% 26089.61 Delayed Quote.11.84%
HANG SENG 0.61% 27240.35 Real-time Quote.4.76%
HITACHI, LTD. 1.01% 4005 End-of-day quote.41.77%
KOSPI COMPOSITE INDEX -0.12% 2089.63 Real-time Quote.2.48%
NASDAQ 100 -0.42% 7479.111452 Delayed Quote.18.15%
NASDAQ COMP. -0.52% 7796.658954 Delayed Quote.17.50%
NIKKEI 225 0.03% 21124 Real-time Quote.5.51%
NIKON CORP -0.34% 1480 End-of-day quote.-7.21%
RAKUTEN INC 1.24% 1225 End-of-day quote.71.81%
RIO TINTO -0.31% 4758.5 Delayed Quote.27.88%
S&P 500 -0.16% 2886.98 Delayed Quote.15.16%
S&P/ASX 200 -0.35% 6530.9 Real-time Quote.16.07%
SINO BIOPHARMACEUTICAL LIMITED 0.71% 7.1 End-of-day quote.37.33%
SK HYNIX INC End-of-day quote.
SUNNY OPTICAL TECHNOLOGY (GROUP) CO. LTD -2.21% 68.6 End-of-day quote.-1.44%
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