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Asia Markets to Chew on Fed News

Asia markets could reflect continued disappointment going into Thursday as overseas investors digest moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve and a major market prepares for a holiday weekend.

U.S. stocks ended mixed, after the Fed held out the prospect of more quantitative easing but disappointed some investors when it declined to take any immediate action on a weakening economic picture.

“I think that U.S. equities markets have sold off from the highs earlier in the day so to the extent that sentiment was kind of reflected in Asia, there’s probably a little bit of risk off going into that session," said Robert Sinche, head of global currency strategy at RBS.

Indeed trading in China is already thinning. Markets there will be closed Friday due to the Dragon Boat Festival.

China
AP
China

The Shanghai Composite Index gave up 0.34 percent to finish at 2,292.88.8 on Wednesday, continuing a losing streak from the day earlier. Turnover in Shanghai was the lowest since Feb. 1. Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed up 1.1 percent to 8,752.30. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 19,518.85 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.7 percent to 1,904.12.

Market Factors Wednesday:

Trading was thin in China as investors started heading to the sidelines ahead of the long weekend. There was also caution in the markets as investors awaited the U.S. Fed announcement.

"Pragmatic investors are also looking at China, as it has been more proactive recently in implementing stimulus, and Chinese officials are managing the situation well enough," Tom Kaan, director equity sales at Louis Capital in Hong Kong, told the Associated Press.

He added, however, that light trading volumes represented still-elevated levels of investor caution.

"We're not seeing massive buying interest, people are looking at defensive stocks—conservative investing, but without missing the run if it does come," he said.

Meanwhile Hong Kong bourse turnover slipped for the third session in a row and neared the lowest this year, with investors eyeing the U.S. Fed's policy decision later in the day and the HSBC China flash PMI for June on Thursday. Gains on the Hang Seng Index were capped at the 200-day moving average at about 19,591, a level that also limited Monday's gains.

—Associated Press contributed to this report.