SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian shares were subdued on Thursday ahead of anxiously-awaited Sino-U.S. trade talks, while the U.S. dollar consolidated recent bumper gains after the Federal Reserve reaffirmed the outlook for more rate hikes this year.
Reports the Trump administration is considering executive action to restrict some Chinese companies’ ability to sell telecoms equipment in the United States could unsettle investors.
Talks between U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are due to kick off later on Thursday, but a breakthrough deal is viewed as highly unlikely.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was all but flat, while South Korean stocks .KS11 eased 0.31 percent.
Japan's Nikkei .N225 was closed for a holiday, while E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 .ESc1 barely budged.
Wall Street had wobbled on Wednesday as potential U.S. restrictions on Chinese telecom companies reinforced investor concerns about worsening trade relations.
The Fed policy meeting ended with no change as expected while the central bank expressed confidence a recent rise in inflation to near target would be sustained, leaving it on track to raise borrowing costs in June.
“The statement carried only modest changes in wording, but they were meaningful nonetheless, highlighting that the Fed is optimistic on the outlook and intent on continuing to raise rates at a gradual pace,” said Westpac analyst Elliot Clarke.
Yet the Fed also emphasized the inflation target was “symmetric”, suggesting it