Asia Higher Before Fed Decision

Asian markets closed mostly higher in Wednesday trading as the U.S. dollar edged down following a projected Democrat win in Alabama. Investors also awaited the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting.

The Nikkei 225 dropped 108.1 points, or 0.5%, to 22,758.07, but there were gains among some automakers and most financial stocks.

The Hang Seng Index popped 428.22 points, or 1.5%, to 29,222.10

Energy-related names pulled back while tech shares were a mixed picture, with SoftBank closing lower by 0.8% and Sharp climbing 1.6% by the end of the day.

Shares of Toshiba closed up 2% after the embattled Japanese company came to an agreement over a dispute with business partner Western Digital. The latter had earlier taken issue with Toshiba's decision to sell its memory chip unit to a consortium led by Bain. The companies said in a joint statement they would proceed with future investments in their Yokkaichi joint venture.

Korean markets gained, as South Korean President Moon Jae-in began a four-day trip to China. North Korea's weapons program and Seoul's deployment of the THAAD missile defense system are expected to be on the agenda during the trip.

So-called "THAAD-related" stocks — the name given to South Korean shares that get hit when China retaliates against the country by cutting off tourism — gained on Wednesday: Lotte Shopping closed up 1.3%, Amorepacific gained 2.6% and Korean Air Lines was up 6.8% at the end of the session.

Meanwhile, losses in blue-chip tech heavyweights were offset by gains seen in manufacturing and automobile names. Samsung Electronics fell 1.5%, SK Hynix shed 1.3% and Posco finished higher by 0.8%

Australian markets rose, even as energy names declined. Santos declined 1.2%and Oil Search closed flat. Losses were also seen among utilities and gold miners.

Shares of shopping center company Westfield surged 13.7% after it accepted a $15.7-billion U.S. takeover bid from France's Unibail-Rodamco. Shares of Scentre Group, which owns the group's Australian assets and was spun out in 2014, rose 1.6% after surging some 4% in the previous session.

Markets awaited the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's December policy meeting on Wednesday U.S. time. The Fed is expected by most market watchers to raise interest rates by a quarter point.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of six currencies, edged lower to trade at 93.975 late afternoon after falling as low as 93.886 following the news. Against the yen, the greenback lost some ground to trade at 113.43.

Meanwhile, losses in blue-chip tech heavyweights were offset by gains seen in manufacturing and automobile names. Samsung Electronics fell 1.5%, SK Hynix shed 1.3% and Posco finished higher by 0.8%

Shares of shopping center company Westfield surged 13.7% after it accepted a $15.7-billion U.S. takeover bid from France's Unibail-Rodamco. Shares of Scentre Group, which owns the group's Australian assets and was spun out in 2014, rose 1.6%after surging some 4% in the previous session.

Markets awaited the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's December policy meeting on Wednesday U.S. time. The Fed is expected by most market watchers to raise interest rates by a quarter point.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand dollar traded at $0.6939 U.S. after touching a one-month high overnight. The currency was given a boost following the appointment of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's new governor earlier this week.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 regained 34.07 points, or 0.9%, to 4,050.09

Meanwhile, the founder of Chinese tech company LeEco has been included on a nationwide list of debt defaulters, China Daily reported. Jia Yueting had not paid around 465 million yuan ($70.2 million U.S.) owed to Ping An Securities, the newspaper said. The company once had its sights set on taking on Apple, but has since been plagued by a shortage in cash.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index recovered 19.55 points, or 0.8%, to 2,480.55

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index recouped 27.42 points, or 0.3%, to 10,470.70

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index edged up 3.23 points, or 0.1%, to 3,468.77

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 added 3.77 points, or 0.1%, to 8,284.58

In Australia, the ASX 200 gained 8.63 points, or 0.1%, to 6,021.83