Stocks notch up new high but it's all about the Fed

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The US dollar was up 0.51 per cent against the Japanese currency at 111.4 yen.

The Norwegian crown was down 0.1 percent against both the euro and the dollar as traders awaited the policy decision by the Norwegian Central Bank due at 0800 GMT.

Australian shares fell sharply to hit three-week lows after the Fed indicated that a third rate hike might be on the table in December.

U.S. President Donald Trump escalated his standoff with North Korea over its nuclear challenge on Tuesday, threatening to "totally destroy" the country and mocking its leader, Kim Jong Un, as a "rocket man".

The greenback has benefited from a recent surge in USA interest rates, with the 10-year Treasury yield having climbed to a one-month high of around 2.24 percent overnight. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 44.60 points or 0.77 percent to 5,725.10.

The European Central Bank is widely expected to say next month that it will begin scaling back its asset-purchase stimulus programme from January, even though a stronger euro, which dampens inflation, has complicated the outlook. "But it also cut its long-term interest rate projection and this has somewhat slowed the dollar's gains versus the yen by causing the USA yield curve to flatten", said Yukio Ishizuki, senior currency strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

Sterling slid almost one per cent, retreating from its highest level since the Brexit vote, after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said any coming interest rate rises would be limited and gradual. The kiwi has gained ahead of this weekend's election, which polls show is a tight race.

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The S&P financial index .SPSY gained 0.8 percent ahead of the Fed statement.

The kiwi didn't move much after dairy product prices rose at the GlobalDairyTrade auction overnight, pushing the GDT price index up 0.9 percent.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is advancing 144.07 points or 0.71 percent to 20,454.53, off a high of 20,481.27 in early trades. The kiwi rose on Wednesday after the 1News Colmar Brunton showed National on 46 percent to Labour's 37 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is rising more than 4 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is higher by more than 3 percent.

US crude CLcv1 fell 43 cents to settle at $49.48 a barrel, while Brent LCOcv1 declined 34 cents to settle at $55.14.

Brent crude rose 66 cents a barrel to $55.80, just shy of a five-month high of $55.99 hit last week.

The euro shed 0.1 percent to $1.1883 after dropping 0.8 percent the previous day, when it reversed a four-session winning run.

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