Asian stock markets ended mixed Wednesday as market participants awaited the Fed meeting outcome for any hint at monetary easing.
The second two-day meeting of the year started on Tuesday and the committee will release the members' assessments of the appropriate timing and pace of policy changes via the Fed funds rate at 2:15 pm EDT.
Analysts at Credit Agricole believe that April FOMC meeting will not result in any material changes to the monetary policy outlook. They say the Fed is expected to support the current exceptionally accommodative policy stance but that there is little sentiment for additional stimulus right now.
Markets opened on a positive note as firm US corporate earnings and decent demand for Dutch, Spanish and Italian debt auctions buoyed sentiment.
The Japanese benchmark Nikkei advanced 0.98 percent or 92.97 points to 9,561.01 and Chinese Shanghai rose 0.75 percent or 17.98 points to 2,406.81 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.15 percent.
Regional tech shares rallied, buoyed by better-than-expected second quarter earnings from Apple Inc. The iPhone maker reported second quarter net income of $11.6 billion or $12.30 per share that handily beat Reuters estimation of $10.04 per share. Revenue rose to 59 percent to $39.2 billion compared to consensus estimation of $36.8 billion.
“Apple earnings added to the good news, contributing to more than 82 percent of S&P 500 companies topping estimates so far for Q1 earnings,” said a note from Credit Agricole.
Advantest Corp. surged 2.91 percent in Tokyo and Foxconn International Holdings gained 2.68 percent in Hong Kong, while Apple’s major competitor Samsung Electronics advanced 1.71 percent in Seoul.
Meanwhile, signs of an improvement in the US housing market also added to the sentiment. New home sales in the US declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 328,000 compared to an upwardly revised February rate of 353,000. However, sales comfortably beat Reuters' estimation of 320,000 units and were up 7.5 percent compared to the annual rate of 305,000 in March 2011.
Indian stock markets declined after credit rating agency Standard & Poor's lowered the country's outlook on the long-term rating to negative from stable, saying that the economy is facing high fiscal deficits and a heavy debt burden. Benchmark BSE Sensex declined 0.33 percent or 56.00 points to 17,151.29.
Wipro Ltd. shares plunged 7.29 percent as the third largest information technology services provider in India forecast slower growth in the next quarter with the global economy continuing to be weak.