Jul 25, 11:41 PM EDT

Asia shares mixed as Fed caution offsets Wall St, oil gains


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HONG KONG (AP) -- Asian stock markets are mixed Wednesday, with upward momentum from a record day on Wall Street and buoyant oil prices offset by investor caution ahead of the Fed's upcoming interest rate decision.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.5 percent to 20,055.29 but South Korea's Kospi index slipped 0.3 percent to 2,434.11. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped less than 0.1 percent to 26,832.20 and the Shanghai Composite index in mainland China was practically unchanged at 3,243.63. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rallied 1 percent to 5,780.80. Benchmarks in Southeast Asia were higher.

FED IN FOCUS: The U.S. central bank's policymaking committee is holding a two-day meeting. There's not likely to be any market-moving news when it announces its decision, which comes after Asian markets close. Most analysts expect officials to keep rates unchanged. The Fed has already raised rates three times since December and market watchers don't expect another hike until later this year or in 2018.

ANALYST VIEW: "The market expects a near-zero probability of a rate hike this time, but the central bank's policy outlook will be closely watched by market participants nonetheless," said Margaret Yang, analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks closed higher, boosted by better-than-expected second-quarter earnings reports from the likes of McDonald's and Caterpillar. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.3 percent to an all-time high of 2,477.08. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.5 percent to 21,613.43. The Nasdaq composite added less than 0.1 percent to 6,412.17.

ENERGY: Oil futures extended gains in Asian trading. Benchmark U.S. crude added 48 cents to $48.36 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.55, or 3.3 percent, to settle at $47.89 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained rose 37 cents to $50.73 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar inched up to 111.92 yen from 111.91 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.1650 from $1.1649.

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