- Asian stock markets were mixed on Tuesday, as investors remained cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve''s highly anticipated policy meeting due to begin later in the day.

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index inched up 0.1%, China’s Shanghai Composite index added 0.25%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index closed 1.26% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index ended down 0.17%.

Asia was given a negative lead from the U.S., where the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq all ended lower after data showed that U.S. new home sales fell more-than-expected in December, dampening optimism over the economic outlook.

Traders readied for Wednesday’s Fed meeting and possible news on the fate of the central bank’s bond buying program. Market analysts expect the Fed to cut its bond buying program to USD65 billion from the current USD75 billion.

The central bank announced its first cut to the USD85 billion in monthly bond purchases in December, citing an improving economy.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei closed below the key psychological 15,000-level as traders continued to monitor movements in the currency market.

USD/JPY was trapped in rangebound trade below the JPY103-mark, dampening sentiment. A stronger yen reduces the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated, dampening the outlook for export earnings.

Sony saw shares fall 2.7% after ratings agency Moody''s cut its rating on the company’s debt to ''Junk'', citing profit concerns.

Elsewhere, in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng swung between small gains and losses amid ongoing concerns over tightening liquidity conditions in the financial system and rising interbank lending rates.

Investors have remained cautious over the level of bad debt at Chinese banks, particularly when interbank lending rates are high.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index fell to a five-week low as it played catch-up with the region following Monday''s holiday.

Losses in the financial sector weighed on the benchmark index, with Australia and New Zealand Banking, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking retreating 1.65%, 1.45% and 1.1% respectively.

Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a higher open. The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a gain of 0.6% at the open, France’s CAC 40 futures rose 0.6%, London’s FTSE 100 futures indicated a gain of 0.6%, while Germany''s DAX futures advanced 0.7%.

Across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets pointed to a mixed open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a gain of 0.55%, S&P 500 futures inched up 0.45%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a decline of 0.35%.

The U.S. is to release data on durable goods orders as well as what will be a closely watch report on consumer confidence.

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