Asian shares mixed in muted trading ahead of US Fed meeting

Pedestrians walk past an electronic stock board outside a securities firm in Tokyo Japan. Bloomberg

It rose 1 percent to $59.09 a barrel Tuesday.

The Fed's two-day meeting starts today, with financial markets expecting the U.S. central bank to reinforce a dovish approach to any further rises in interest rates.

"Speculators appear to be betting on a rise in stock prices on the back of a dovish Fed".

In particular, investors will be focussing on whether policymakers have sufficiently lowered their interest rate forecasts to more closely align their "dot plot", a diagram showing individual policymakers' rate views for the next three years.

Wall Street shares were narrowly mixed on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 losing 0.01 per cent and the Nasdaq adding 0.12 per cent.

The Australian dollar, which has advanced in recent days - helped by the USA dollar's weakness - was down 0.22 percent after minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's March policy meeting expressed concern about the housing market.

Elsewhere, emerging-market currencies and shares were steady.

MSCI's widest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat, easing back from its highest level since September 21 hit previous in the session.

"What has been priced out of global markets is the notion that we're going to see a negative resolution to the trade talks", said Chris Weston, head of research at foreign exchange brokerage Pepperstone in Melbourne.

Sterling was up 0.18 percent at $1.3278. US gold futures gained 0.45 percent to $1,307.40 an ounce. "Yet there is a risk the Fed could tone down its dovishness", said Masanari Takada, cross-asset strategist at Nomura Securities.

Germany's benchmark 10-year bond yield was last up just 1 basis point at 0.09 percent, around four basis points away from more than two-year lows hit earlier this month.

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Oil prices held close to four-month highs on expectations that Opec would continue production cuts through the end of the year and after data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed a surprise draw-down on crude inventories. US sanctions versus oil producers Iran and Venezuela are also increasing crude prices, although traders say the market looks covered by growing American yield.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil was unchanged at $59.09 a barrel.

"OPEC and non-OPEC producers are determined to get the supply and demand dynamics better into balance, recognizing that US shale production is going to continue to rise", said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

Precious metal palladium, used in things like auto catalytic converters, dipped after it topped the $1,600 an ounce mark for the first time on supply concerns.

Palladium was last up 0.92 percent to $1,598.02 an ounce.

The dollar rose against most of its peers on Wednesday as reports of renewed tension in U.S.

Copper rose 0.76 percent to $6,474.00 a tonne.

The Fed is due to wrap up its policy meeting Wednesday and is widely expected to keep its key short-term rate in a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent, still low by historical standards.

Most other euro zone bond yields were also little changed, although Italy's 10-year bond yield was up nearly four bps on the day at 2.46 percent - giving up some of the previous day's sharp falls.

The 30-year bond fell 17/32 in price to yield 3.0375 percent, from 3.01 percent late on Monday.

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