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Asian shares mixed in muted trading ahead of US Fed meeting

Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

An investor plays a mobile chess game while watching stock prices at a brokerage in Beijing, China, Tuesday, March 19, 2019. Asian shares are mixed in muted trading as investors await the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting later in the week. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

TOKYO (AP) -- Asian shares were mixed in muted trading Tuesday as investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting later in the week.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.3 percent to 21,528.23 in early trading. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.1 percent to 6,182.10. South Korea's Kospi inched down less than 0.1 percent to 2,178.91. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose nearly 0.1 percent to 29,429.99, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.3 percent to 3,104.89.

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 percent, to 2,832.94. The benchmark index is now up 13 percent for 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 percent, to 25,914.10.

The Nasdaq composite added 25.95 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,714.48. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 10.39 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,563.93.

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.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped 3 cents to $59.06 a barrel. It rose 1 percent to $59.09 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude gained 1 cent to $67.55 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.21 yen from 111.56 yen Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.1341 from $1.1335.

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AP Business Writers Stan Choe and Alex Vega contributed to this report.

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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