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Markets around Asia were mostly firmer on Wednesday with a handful of public holidays keeping regional trading volumes subdued and as investors gearing up for the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting later today.

The Fed’s two-day policy meeting concludes on Wednesday and the central bank is widely expected to keep benchmark interest rates on hold in the range of 0.75 per cent to 1 per cent. The probability of a rate rise is 12.8 per cent, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Weaker-than-expected GDP data for the March quarter released last Friday has stirred doubts about the US economic outlook, and will put Friday’s non-farm payrolls figures in sharp focus.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.4 per cent, led lower by the heavyweight materials and financials sectors, while Singapore’s Straits Times index gained 0.5 per cent.

Taiwan’s benchmark Taiex added 0.3 per cent, while China’s Shanghai Composite was up 0.1 per cent, while the technology-focused Shenzhen Composite added 0.2 per cent.

Markets in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea were closed for public holidays.

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