Asian stocks mixed as investors await Fed meeting minutes

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2014, file photo, Wall Street is etched in the facade of a building in New York's Financial District. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, as investors return from the holiday weekend in a buying mood. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stock markets were mixed with subdued movements on Wednesday, getting little push from the Wall Street's record high overnight, as investors awaited the Fed's latest meeting minutes due later in the day for clues about the U.S. central bank's views on interest rates.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.2 percent to 19,345.12 while South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,106.18. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 0.8 percent to 24,154.38 and Shanghai Composite Index inched down 0.1 percent to 3,250.25. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.1 percent to 5,797.80. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mixed.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Given the dearth of data release, FOMC minutes ought to be the main focus for markets that have a penchant for line-by-line dissection and de-cryption," Mizuho Bank said in a daily commentary, referring to the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee. Last week, Fed chief Janet Yellen indicated the Fed is likely to speed up the pace of interest rate rises if the job market remains healthy and inflation stays on track.

WALL STREET: Wall Street again broke records Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 118.95 points, or 0.6 percent, to 20,743. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 14.22 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,365.38. The Nasdaq composite gained 27.37 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,865.95. All three indexes are at record highs after rising nine times in the last 10 days. U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 21 cents to $54.54 per barrel in New York. The contract rose 55 cents to close at $54.33 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 29 cents to $57.05 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 113.41 yen from 113.57 yen. The euro rose slightly to $1.0547 from $1.0546.

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