Asia stocks edge up in hopes for calmer China markets but wary of Fed

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Asian shares attempted a rebound on opening Wednesday on hopes that Beijing could stem the rout in its markets without damage to the economy, though caution was the watchword ahead of a policy decision from the US Federal Reserve.

Australia's main index rose 0.9 per cent in early trade, while Japan's Nikkei flitted in and out of positive territory. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan firmed 0.5 per cent.

Sentiment was soothed a little when Chinese regulators said they were prepared to buy shares to stabilise stocks and the central bank hinted at further easing.

Yet investors were understandably wary of a market that, without warning, fell over 8 per cent on Monday.

The CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen had ended on Tuesday just 0.2 per cent lower, while the Shanghai Composite lost 1.7 per cent. Both indexes had slumped as much as 5 pe rcent at one point.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended on Tuesday with gains of 1.09 per cent, while the S&P 500 rose 1.24 per cent and the Nasdaq 0.98 per cent.

Not faring so well was Twitter, which sank 11 per cent in extended trade after the microblogging company said its monthly average users grew at the slowest pace since it went public in 2013.

The Fed ends a two-day policy meeting later on Wednesday with markets divided on whether it will take a hawkish or dovish stance, while some suspect it might chose to do neither. No move on rates is expected this week.

In recent congressional testimony, Fed chair Janet Yellen neither ruled out a September hike nor guided the market toward thinking it was a done deal.

"We think the upcoming FOMC statement will reflect this non-committal approach," said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets. "In other words, there will be no explicit tweak to the guidance signalling a hike is imminent."

At most, the Fed might sound a little more positive on the economy and describe risks to the outlook as balanced rather than "nearly" balanced, Porcelli added.

In currency markets, investors seemed to decide it was safer not to be short of the US dollar ahead of the policy statement at 1800 GMT.

The dollar was up at 123.57 yen, from a low of 123.04 on Tuesday, while the euro inched down to US$1.1063.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was off a touch at 96.628.

In energy markets, oil prices were subdued ahead of official data on US stockpiles.

Brent futures were down 31 cents at US$52.99 a barrel and near their lowest since February. US crude futures slipped 24 cents to US$47.74 a barrel.