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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks edge lower amid caution ahead of Fed policy

AmorePacific soars in Seoul on results while BYD and GAC slide

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan fell on Wednesday, as investors paused ahead of the outcome of a U.S. central bank policy review.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index slipped 0.2% to 1,301.47.

U.S. equity indexes pulled back on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 Index coming off a record high. The U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to cut interest rates at its policy review that concludes later Wednesday.

The Fed will have lowered its key interest rate by 75 basis points since July if it delivers a 25-basis-point cut at this week's meeting. Markets await cues on the central bank's future policy stance as the bruising Sino-American trade war shows some signs of easing.

"The market is fully priced for a cut and anything else would be a real surprise," John Bellows, a portfolio manager at Legg Mason-affiliate Western Asset Management, wrote in a note.

"We think the Fed will reiterate the dovish arguments that have led to the interest rate cuts this year. These dovish points would come as a surprise to analysts who are expecting a more hawkish message."

Meanwhile, a U.S. administration official on Tuesday said an interim trade agreement between Washington and Beijing may not be completed in time to be signed in Chile next month, according to Reuters.

However, this was not a sign that the deal was falling apart, the official reportedly said. Officials from the U.S. and China, including President Donald Trump, have indicated that there has been progress toward phase one of a Sino-American trade deal.

South Korean cosmetics company AmorePacific Group surged 14.3% following a 42% jump in third-quarter operating profit.

Samsung Heavy Industries slid 5.8% in Seoul. The shipbuilder on Wednesday said orders worth a total of 1.63 trillion won ($1.39 billion) to build two drillships were cancelled, according to Reuters.

Electric carmaker BYD slid 5.6% in Hong Kong after reporting an 88.6% plunge in third-quarter profit and saying it expects to report up to a 43% year-on-year decrease in 2019 net profit.

Guangzhou Automobile Group also fell 5.6% following a 35.8% decline in net profit for the January-to-September period and a 19.2% decrease in revenue.

China Life Insurance added 1.6% after saying profit for the January-to-September period nearly tripled from a year ago.

--Suzannah Benjamin

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