Global stocks mixed after Japan policy unchanged

BEIJING - Global stocks were mixed Wednesday as investors looked ahead to a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting after Japan's central bank left monetary policy unchanged despite signs of weaker economic growth.

Oil fell below $101 as markets shrugged off new sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.1 percent to close at 14,304.11 after the Bank of Japan avoided changes in its ultra-loose policy despite concern that an April 1 consumption tax hike will sap growth. The Shoko Chukin survey showed business confidence in April sank to its lowest level since February 2013.

"Firms do not expect conditions to recover quickly," Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a report.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent to 2,026.36. Singapore, Bangkok and Manila also rose.

In Europe, France's CAC-40 lost 0.4 percent to 4,479.66, while the Dax in Germany shed 0.2 percent to 9,564.99.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 1.3 percent to 22,152.24 after Chinese pork supplier WH Group, which bought U.S. producer Smithfield Foods last year, canceled a planned multibillion-dollar initial public stock offering. It blamed weak investor demand and market volatility.

Investors looked ahead to the end of a two-day U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting. The Fed was expected to stick to plans to reduce monthly bond purchases by $10 billion this month. Also due out Wednesday were preliminary first-quarter figures on growth in the world's largest economy.

"U.S. growth is expected to show the smallest growth read in a year, but leading indicators remain mildly positive, meaning it is unlikely there will be any change" in Fed policy, strategist Evan Lucas of IG Markets said in a report.

Also out Thursday are Chinese manufacturing data for April.

Seoul's Kospi shed 0.1 percent to 1,961.79 amid concern nationwide grief over a ferry sinking that killed at least 204 people and left 100 missing might affect economic growth as people cancel trips and social events.

"The tourism and recreation sectors should have been hit the most, with the knock-on effects expected to spread to accommodation, transport and retail trade," DBS Group said in a report.

Sydney's S&P ASX 200 rose marginally to 5,489.10, while Taiwan's Taiex declined 0.9 percent to 8,791.44.

India's Sensex added 0.3 percent to 22,529.08.

In the United States, the Dow Jones industrial average future was off 0.1 percent in pre-market trading on the Chicago Board of Trade. The future for the broader Standard & Poor's 500 lost 0.2 percent.

In energy markets, U.S. crude for June delivery declined 90 cents per barrel to $100.37 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That came after sanctions announced by the United States and Europe on Russian officials, businesspeople and companies were less severe than traders had feared. The contract climbed above $101 on Monday, adding 44 cents to close at $101.28.

The dollar was off 0.2 percent at 102.33 yen and the euro was flat at $1.381.