Asian shares trade lower ahead of Fed meeting

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Most Asian stock markets closed lower, with traders looking ahead to a policy meeting at the US Federal Reserve.

Analysts expect the US central bank to end its monthly bond-buying programme and maintain its benchmark interest rate at a record low.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei index ended down 0.4%, despite data showing September retail sales beat economists' estimates.

Australian and South Korean shares also ended in negative territory.

But bucking the trend were Hong Kong and Shanghai shares, which finished 1.6% and 2% higher respectively.

The Federal Reserve has been looking to end its stimulus programme, also known as quantitative easing (QE), by gradually reducing the amount provided for its asset-purchase programme.

However, concerns over the withdrawal of the US stimulus have previously caused volatility in Asian stock markets.

That is because the Fed's programme helped money to flow into emerging market stocks, bonds and property in Asia, despite structural weaknesses in their overall economies.

Stock movers

Image source, AFP
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China is competing for overseas rail projects in Africa and Europe

Shares in China's biggest train makers, CSR and China CSR, were suspended from trading in Hong Kong and Shanghai following reports the two companies were planning to merge.

According to the China Securities Journal, the two firms had set up working groups to discuss a possible merger that would help promote China's high-speed train technology overseas.

In Australia, shares of Bega Cheese fell as much as over 2% after it said profit growth next year would "present a significant challenge".

The company has been affected by Russian sanctions on Western food imports and falling global dairy prices.

Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical received a boost on Tuesday after a US judge reduced a $9bn (£5.6bn) penalty over a diabetes drug to $36.8m.

Takeda, which jointly made the drug with US firm Eli Lilly, faces more than 2,900 lawsuits alleging that the drugmakers failed to warn users the drug could increase their risk for bladder cancer.

Its shares rose 1% in Tokyo, outperforming the overall decline in the benchmark Nikkei.