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Stocks in Asia pull back and the dollar firms ahead of Fed

  • Most Asian stocks came under pressure in Wednesday trade.
  • The Federal Reserve's policy meeting ends on Wednesday U.S. hours.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement, which many criticized for lacking detail, at the end of their Tuesday meeting.

Most Asian markets closed lower on Wednesday as investors shifted their focus from the recently concluded U.S.-North Korea summit to the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's June meeting later in the day.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.51 percent to 6,023.50, with most sectors in negative territory. The heavily weighted financials subindex eased 0.63 percent and resource plays also pulled back. Utilities stocks rose more than 8 percent.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Greater China markets saw sharper losses. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index lost 0.99 percent by 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN, with declines seen across all sectors. The heavily weighted financials sector was down 0.82 percent before the market close. Property developers and energy stocks were also weaker.

On the mainland, the Shanghai composite fell 0.97 percent to 3,049.80. The smaller Shenzhen composite lost 1.58 percent to end at 1,731.43.

Japan's Nikkei 225, however, bucked the trend to edge up by 0.38 percent, finishing the day at 22,966.38. Shippers and real estate stocks led gains for the day, while automakers rose 0.93 percent.

MSCI's broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan pulled back by 0.61 percent in Asia afternoon trade.

Markets in South Korea and Indonesia were closed on Wednesday.

Global markets were subdued following Tuesday's meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The summit, which took place in Singapore, marked the first ever meeting between sitting leaders of the two nations.

The historic summit culminated in both leaders signing an agreement that pledged to create a lasting "peace regime" on the Korean Peninsula, although the statement was criticized for lacking in detail. Trump also said during a press conference that the U.S. would be halting war games held with South Korea.

"Until there is more meaningful progress, which could ultimately lead to potential alleviation of existing sanctions, we expect the Kospi to remain in this range [of 2,400 to 2,500]. Our base case Kospi remains at 2,600," Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note.

Rate hike expected 

Following the conclusion of the high profile summit, investors will now focus their attention on upcoming central bank meetings. The Federal Reserve will end its two-day meeting on Wednesday U.S. hours and is widely expected to announce a rate hike.

Markets will also be looking for clues on the central bank's rate hike trajectory this year.

"There's a big risk that the FOMC probably raises its 2018 fed funds rate projections. Right now, they expect to raise rates one more time after the June meeting. There's a potential risk they imply two more ... but that's not going to be a big shock to market participants," Elias Haddad, at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

The European Central Bank and Bank of Japan will meet later in the week.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was supported ahead of the conclusion of the Fed's meeting at 93.905. Against the yen, the dollar firmed slightly to trade at 110.59 at 3:02 p.m. HK/SIN.

In individual movers, shares of ZTE plunged some 40 percent in Hong Kong by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN after resuming trade on Wednesday. Shares of the telecommunications equipment maker had been suspended since April after the U.S. government imposed a ban on the Chinese company from buying U.S. parts.

Elsewhere, shares of Australia's APA Group rose 20.92 percent after the company received an indicative non-binding offer led by CK Infrastructure Holdings.

U.S. stocks finished the day little changed in the last session, with the lack of commitment in the agreement signed by Trump and Kim not giving investors much to go on.