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Financials

HK shares edge higher ahead of Fed meeting

* Hang Seng adds 0.2 pct, H-shares up 0.1 pct

* Market expects “patient” Fed to pause rate hikes

* A-shares edge down as profit-taking weighs on market

HONG KONG, March 19 (Reuters) - Hong Kong stocks inched higher on Tuesday ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting this week where it is widely expected to strike a dovish tone. ** At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up 0.2 percent at 29,466.28 points, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 0.1 percent. ** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares gained 0.1 percent, while the IT sector dipped 0.1 percent, the financial sector ended flat and the property sector climbed 0.8 percent. ** The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is meeting on Tuesday Eastern Time and is expected to announce its latest interest rate decision a day later. ** Global markets appear to expect the U.S. central bank to pause from hiking rates, after Chairman Jerome Powell made a pledge to stick to a “patient” approach in monetary policy. ** The Chinese mainland stock market pulled back from its highest level in over six months in the previous session as investors took profit. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.1 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.1 percent. ** The top gainer on the Hang Seng was WH Group Ltd, up 5.5 percent, while the biggest loser was Hengan International Group Company Ltd, which fell 2.3 percent. ** The top gainers among H-shares were CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Ltd, which gained 3.3 percent, followed by CGN Power Co Ltd, up 3.2 percent, and Great Wall Motor Co Ltd , up by 2.6 percent. ** At close, China’s A-shares were trading at a premium of 22.80 percent over the Hong Kong-listed H-shares. ** About 1.80 billion Hang Seng index shares were traded. The volume traded in the previous trading session was 1.95 billion. ** The short and one-factor leveraged Hang Seng index, which is designed to replicate the payoff of a short or leveraged portfolio and is linked to the movements of the Hang Seng Index, was lower by 0.19 percent on the day at 4,668.6 points. (Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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