HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks rose Wednesday, tracking gains on Wall Street as investor optimism mounted ahead of a highly anticipated Federal Reserve policy meeting.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.9 percent to 18,195.70 and South Korea's Kospi added 1.8 percent to 1,970.75. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.2 percent to 21,702.03. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China edged up 0.2 percent to 3,010.59. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.4 percent to 5,089.50
FED FOCUS: Investors around the world are guessing what the Fed will do as its two-day policy meeting is set to begin later Wednesday. Some economists say it's time to start gradually raising interest rates for the first time in close to a decade given that the U.S. job market has more or less recovered. Others argue rates should remain on hold amid global stock market turmoil and China's slowdown, among other factors. The Fed's decision is expected Thursday though Asian equity markets won't be able to react until a day after.
ANALYST VIEW: "It's all about the Fed now with opinion divided about whether it will announce an increase in US interest rates," said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets, said in commentary. Stock market gains reflect "solid growth in the U.S. domestic economy and the potential for the Fed to increase certainty and reduce volatility by acting at the September meeting."
WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks posted solid gains led by industrial stocks, which were among the worst hit in a recent sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 1.4 percent to 16,599.85 and the Standard & Poor's 500 climbed 1.3 percent to 1,978.09. The Nasdaq composite advanced 1.1 percent to 4,860.52.
ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude rose 26 cents to $44.85 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 59 cents to $44.59 a barrel in New York on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international types of oil imported into the U.S., slipped 1 cent to $48.57 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 120.27 yen from 120.43 yen in the previous trading session. The euro dropped to $1.1287 from $1.1309.