Asian shares mostly higher ahead of Fed meeting

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People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Asian shares are mostly higher as investors await a meeting of the Federal Reserve and a speech to Congress by U.S. President Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

BEIJING – Asian shares were mostly moderately higher in listless trading Wednesday, as investors watched for news out of a Federal Reserve meeting.

Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.4% to 29,104.51 in morning trading, while South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.8% to 3,189.72. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5% to 7,066.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.2% to 29,005.46 while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.2% to 3,448.25.

Analysts said Asian investors have adopted a wait-and-see stance ahead of the Fed meeting.

“But the wider point and the bigger driver of markets, as equities shuffled nervously ahead of the FOMC meeting today, is arguably just how much restraint the Fed will exercise,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya at Mizuho Bank.

Also on tap is President Joe Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress, which is expected to lay out several parts of his agenda such as increased infrastructure spending, likely higher taxes on the wealthy and higher funding for government programs.

The slow pace of coronavirus vaccinations in some parts of Asia, including Japan, and a surge of cases in India are adding to continued worries about the pandemic, in contrast with progress in the U.S. and parts of Europe where cases are starting to fall.

Japan has declared a state of emergency in some urban areas, trying to curb travel, crowds and the spread of infections, as the nation heads to a series of national holidays called Golden Week.

On Wall Street, indexes closed out a wobbly day of trading, leaving the S&P 500 index just below its all-time high. The benchmark index slipped less than 0.1% to 4,186.72. The index was coming off its latest all-time high. The Dow barely recovered from an early slide, adding less than 0.1% to 33,984.93. The Nasdaq fell 0.3% to 14,090.22. The tech-heavy index also set a record high on Monday.