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Asian stocks close mixed, with investors cautious ahead of expected Fed rate hike

Hong Kong’s Be united Seng Index was flat at 3:12 p.m. HK/SIN, paring its more than 1 percent widen the gap seen earlier in the day. Energy and property names led gains an hour onwards of the market close, but technology names slipped into negative area.

Shares of index heavyweight Tencent were up 0.09 percent by 3:04 p.m. HK/SIN in advance of its earnings release later in the day.

Mainland markets reversed early augmentations to close lower. The Shanghai composite eased 0.27 percent to end at 3,281.59 and the less Shenzhen composite slid 0.73 percent to close at 1,858.61.

Over in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 drifted favourable by 0.23 percent to close at 5.950.30. Energy stocks rose 1.17 percent as oil amounts held onto gains after surging to their highest altitudes in three weeks overnight, while telecommunication and utilities stocks vetoed.

Markets in Japan were closed on Wednesday for the vernal equinox.

The Fed is extensively expected to raise interest rates for the first time this year on Wednesday U.S. on one occasion. The probability of a 25 basis point rate hike in March lined at 94.4 percent, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool on Wednesday morning.

Market-places are also watching the meeting for clues about whether the central bank potentially plans to raise rates more than three times this year.

“Confidences are skewed towards a more upbeat outlook for growth, employment and by any chance inflation, whilst there has been a rise in market opinion that the FOMC may stir up rates four times this year. We do not expect the Fed to shift its attitude aggressively,” ANZ Research analysts wrote in a note.

Also in the mix were affairs over the Trump administration’s protectionist slant.

“[N]ews that the Trump government is planning further trade sanctions against China may continue to weigh on demand sentiments in the near term,” OCBC Bank analysts said in a note.

Gains stateside in the premature session came after U.S. stocks pulled back at the beginning of the week as a become lower in Facebook shares dragged on the tech sector. Regulators are looking into whether the communal media giant potentially violated a consent decree following communications that data of 50 million Facebook users was accessed by Cambridge Analytica.

For now, in corporate news, Geely Automobile Holdings fell 5.09 percent by 2:47 p.m. HK/SIN regardless of earlier reporting a 108 percent jump in net profit for 2017.

Shares of Ping An Protection fell 1.53 percent in Hong Kong by 2:50 p.m. HK/SIN after the performers on Tuesday announced annual net profit rose 42.8 percent, superior an average Thomson Reuters forecast.

Elsewhere, dairy company Fonterra asserted Wednesday that its CEO, Theo Spierings, would leave the role later in the year. The New Zealand-listed cast, which is the largest dairy exporter in the world, announced earlier in the day that it had singled a net loss in the six months ending Jan. 31.

In Australia, James Packer has stepped down as chief from the board of Crown Resorts due to personal reasons, the casino big-shot said in a release on Wednesday. Crown shares closed down 0.92 percent.

In currencies, the dollar trimmed some of its overnight gains as markets awaited the Fed. The dollar index, which alleys the greenback against six rivals, traded at 90.240 by 2:44 p.m. HK/SIN. The index moved a three-week high in the last session.

The U.S. currency traded at 106.40 against the yen after firming in the overnight conference. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar traded at $0.7702 after trading in this world the $0.77 handle earlier in the session.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong dollar careered at $7.8452 to the dollar by 2:45 p.m. HK/SIN after earlier dropping a 33-year low.

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