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Global stocks quiet ahead of Yellen's 1st Fed policy meet

SEOUL/HONG KONG--Global stock markets were subdued Wednesday ahead of the outcome of the Federal Reserve's first policy meeting under its new chief.

In early European trading, stock markets were mostly muted with tensions over Russia's annexation of Crimea still in the background. Germany's DAX added 0.4 percent to 9,275.99 while France's CAC 40 drifted 0.2 percent lower to 4,306.34. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.1 percent to 6,601.01.

On Wall Street, stocks were poised to gain with Dow Jones and Standard & Poor's 500 futures each up 0.1 percent.

The U.S. Federal Reserve ends a two-day policy meeting Wednesday, the first headed by new governor Janet Yellen.

Most analysts expect the Fed to continue to reduce its monetary stimulus at the speed it has already set, trimming its monthly bond purchases by US$10 billion. It is also expected to revise its economic forecasts.

Investors should pay attention to how much the Fed cuts its economic forecasts and how it changes its guidance for when to increase the federal funds rate, said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at Melbourne, Australia-based IG. How the Fed views the latest wage growth data and if it mentions the improvement in employment would also be important, he said.

Asia's markets were mixed in edgy trade on Wednesday after Russia ratcheted up tensions in Eastern Europe by formally absorbing Crimea from Ukraine.

Investors are also awaiting the end of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting, hoping for some guidance from its new head Janet Yellen on her plans for interest rates.

Tokyo rose 0.36 percent, or 51.25 points, to end at 14,462.52 and Sydney added 0.21 percent, or 11.0 points, to 5,355.6.

But Seoul lost 0.13 percent, or 2.53 points, to close at 1,937.68 and Shanghai finished 0.17 percent lower, giving up 3.46 points to 2,021.73.

Hong Kong ended virtually flat, edging down 14.81 points to 21,568.69.

President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty taking Crimea into Russia's fold following a weekend referendum which Western leaders slammed as illegal.

The move comes less than three weeks after Russian troops seized control of the strategic peninsula in response to the ousting of Ukraine's pro-Moscow government.

Kiev's new leaders warned the showdown had entered a “military stage” after soldiers were killed on both sides following a shootout in Crimea.

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