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EU stocks climb before Fed outcome

LONDON/HONG KONG -- European stock markets climbed Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting, and tracked fighting in Iraq.

In late morning trading, London's FTSE 100 index of top companies rose 0.39 percent to 6,793.09 points.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 advanced 0.21 percent to 9,941.19 points and in Paris the CAC-40 index gained 0.07 percent to 4,539.45 compared with Tuesday's close.

The Fed will wrap up a two-day policy meeting later in the day. While policymakers are widely expected to continue winding down their stimulus, investors will be watching to see if Fed chief Janet Yellen gives any hints about future policy.

“Equity markets in Europe traded higher for a second consecutive session as market participants continue to hunt for value; continued violence in Iraq is still affecting the markets, though traders are focused on the Federal Reserve's policy meeting decision later,” said ETX Capital analyst Daniel Sugarman.

“The Fed is set to reduce the bond buying program by US$10 billion, to US$35 billion, and retain interest rates at current levels.”

Asia Shares Mostly Lower, Weaker Yen Boosts Tokyo

Asian markets were mostly lower on Wednesday as tensions in Iraq dampened buying sentiment and investors await the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting later in the day.

Tokyo rose 0.93 percent, or 139.83 points, to 15,115.80, with the weaker yen helping the Nikkei to a second day of gains.

But Seoul lost 0.60 percent, or 12.06 points, to 1,989.49 and Sydney fell 0.33 percent, or 17.97 points, to 5,382.7.

Hong Kong was flat, edging down 21.87 points to 23,181.72 while Shanghai fell 0.54 percent, or 11.18 points, to 2,055.52.

With few other catalysts to drive trade, investors are watching events in Iraq as militants close in on Baghdad after taking control of a number of towns and cities.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sacked several top security commanders after government forces crumbled in the jihadist onslaught, which the U.N. has warned risks breaking up the country.

On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.16 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.22 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.37 percent.

In other markets:

— Bangkok lost 1.34 percent, or 19.66 points, to 1,451.36.

Coal producer Banpu fell 2.54 percent, or 0.75 baht, to 28.75 while Bangkok Bank lost 1.04 percent, or 2.00 baht, to close at 190.00.

— Mumbai fell 1.08 percent, or 274.94 points, to 25,246.25 points.

Prestige Estates fell 5.95 percent to 224.35 rupees while IndiaBulls Real Estate dipped 5.42 percent to 90.80 rupees.

— Jakarta ended down 0.44 percent, or 21.66 points, at 4,887.86.

Bank Tabungan Negara gained 3.40 percent to 1,065 rupiah, while cement producer Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa slipped 3.01 percent to 24,200 rupiah.

— Kuala Lumpur rose 0.11 percent, or 1.98 points, to 1,876.58.

Public Bank gained 0.1 percent to 20.92 ringgit, while Telekom Malaysia added 0.3 percent to 6.25. Budget carrier AirAsia slipped 0.9 percent to 2.33 ringgit.

— Singapore rose 0.07 percent, or 2.36 points, to 3,276.80.

Oil rig maker Keppel Corp. rose 0.09 percent to SG$10.69, while DBS Bank was up 0.12 percent at SG$17.06.

— Wellington dipped 0.17 percent, or 9.04 points, to 5,184.46.

— Manila was almost unchanged, losing 1.80 points to 6,703.13.

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