Investors Nervous With Fed Meeting Ahead and a Santa Crash Behind

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Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday, as traders mulled over the Federal Reserve's interest rate decision and weaker-than-expected Japanese trade data. The S&P, the Dow, and the Nasdaq are all set to open about 0.2% to 0.3% higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 0.2 percent higher at 25,865.39.

The Nasdaq composite rose 30.18 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,783.91.

Oil prices dropped 4 percent, weakening for a third consecutive session as reports of swelling inventories and forecasts of record USA and Russian output. Shares were higher in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

During the regular session, consumer and technology companies were the best performers, while energy shares sank along with crude. The Stoxx 600 lost 0.6% before 9 a.m. local time, closing in on two-year lows and is down 12% so far this year.

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The broader index gained 0.22 points to 2,546.16, after trimming a rally of more than 1% and falling into negative territory in afternoon trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 82.66 points to 23,675.64.

US stocks were boosted by upbeat earnings and tech companies.

A measure of small-company stocks fell into a bear market, a decline of 20 percent below their recent peak. The central bank has forecast three more hikes in 2019, but investors doubt it would go as planned.

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US stocks eked out modest gains amid volatile trading as investors weighed strong tech earnings against concerns about global growth. Investors are hoping the Fed will say the increases are going to slow down in 2019 in light of recent signs that economic growth is slowing. -China trade talks, a major focus for markets, since the beginning of this month. The bank said the U.S. economy could slow even more than markets expect and prompt a bigger sell-off to start the year. It lost just over 1,000 in the previous two days. This is its fourth deficit in last five months.

The Nasdaq is down 119.48 points, or 1.7 percent. Still, investors remain cautious a deal will be done by the March 1 deadline even as China's openness to cutting tariffs on US cars and buying soybeans is feeding optimism that the dispute will be resolved.

Oil prices dropped $3.66 to $46.22 US a barrel.

US crude fell to its lowest price since August 2017 Tuesday and is now down almost 40 percent since early October. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, sank 5.6 percent to $56.26 a barrel in London.

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CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 112.39 yen from 112.52 yen in late trading Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.1357 from $1.1350, and the British pound rose to $1.2639 from $1.2629.

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