Equities in Shanghai headed towards a seven-year high Wednesday but other Asian markets struggled to gain traction as investors wait to find out the Federal Reserve's plans for interest rates later in the day.
Japan's Nikkei index was flat, but Nintendo soared more than 21 percent hitting its daily stop limit, as buy orders overwhelmed sell orders, after the company announced plans to enter the mobile gaming market.
Shanghai, which Tuesday ended at its highest since May 2008 -- gained 0.45 percent with investors still buoyed by comments at the weekend from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that the government was fully equipped to support the world's number two economy if it continues to struggle. Hong Kong added 0.40 percent.
Seoul was flat and Sydney dipped 0.24 percent.
While the Fed is not expected to lift rates Wednesday, global traders are keeping a keen eye on what it has to say about its near-term plans after a recent mixed bag of economic data.
A strong jobs report at the start of the month fanned talk of a June increase but that has since been tempered by disappointing figures on manufacturing and industrial output.
“There are expectations that the word ‘patient’ will disappear from the forward guidance part of the Fed’s statement, while (Fed chief Janet) Yellen will say that they’re not in a hurry to raise rates" at her news conference, Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News.
On Wall Street the Dow dropped 0.71 percent and the S&P 500 shed 0.34 percent in edgy pre-Fed trade, but the Nasdaq closed up 0.16 percent.
And in currency markets the dollar retreated as investors sat on the sidelines. It bought 121.23 yen in early Tokyo trade, compared with 121.34 yen in New York late Tuesday.
The euro was at $1.0611 and 128.73 yen against $1.0590 and 128.51 yen.
In Japan Nintendo surged 21.3 percent -- or by its daily 3,000 yen daily limit -- after it said it would team up with Tokyo-based mobile gaming company DeNA to develop games for smartphones, marking a turning point for the firm, which has long refused to enter the market.
It said it plans to buy 10 percent of DeNA for 22 billion yen with the pair set to create games based on Nintendo's host of popular characters, which include Super Mario and Pokemon.
Oil prices fell in Asian trade, extending losses in New York ahead of a US government report that is expected to show stockpiles at another record high. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April delivery eased 81 cents to $42.65 while Brent crude for May fell 27 cents to $53.24.
Gold fetched $1,150.30 against $1,153.82 late Tuesday.