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Asia: Shares rise as Fed meeting wraps up


[HONG KONG] Asian markets rose Wednesday following strong gains on Wall Street, as traders awaited news from the US Federal Reserve about interest rate plans for the world's largest economy.

Tokyo stocks rose 1.38 per cent by the break, Hong Kong was up 0.88 per cent, Shanghai gained 0.36 per cent and Seoul climbed 1.16 per cent. Sydney edged down 0.1 per cent.

Wall Street provided a healthy lead, with the Dow jumping back above 17,000 on Tuesday following a strong report on US consumer confidence and another round of mostly solid corporate earnings.

The Fed ends a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, with traders expecting the central bank to end the vast asset-purchase stimulus programme credited with propping up US growth after the 2008 financial crisis.

Economists and traders widely anticipate that the Federal Open Market Committee will use a post-meeting statement, due at 1800 GMT, to announce the end of the six-year-old "quantitative easing" scheme.

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Traders are more interested in what policymakers have to say about interest rates.

The Fed is expected to stay the course on near-zero rates, after repeatedly saying the first rise would come "a considerable time" after the bond-buying stops.

On foreign exchange markets the dollar edged up to 108.18 yen from 108.16 in New York Tuesday afternoon.

The euro fetched US$1.2735 and 137.77 yen, against US$1.2733 and 137.74 yen in US trade.

Oil prices edged higher as traders awaited the Fed statement and looked to the weekly US inventories report due Wednesday, which will give clues about demand in the world's top crude consumer.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December delivery rose 44 cents to US$81.86 in early Asian trading while Brent crude for December was up 23 cents to US$86.26.

US oil reserves are expected to have risen by 3.1 million barrels in the week to October 24, according to the consensus estimate of analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal.

The expected surge in stockpiles, coming after a 7.1 million rise last week, could add to worries about a global oversupply and put pressure on crude prices.

Gold was at $1,230.05 an ounce around 0310 GMT, against US$1,230.40 late Tuesday.


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