SYDNEY: Asian shares were subdued on Wednesday after data showed China's consumer prices still remained soft, while the dollar held firm ahead of a key U.S. inflation report and Federal Reserve policy decision that would set the near-term course for interest rates.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was off 0.1%, while Japan's Nikkei slid 0.8%. Technology shares in the region, however, outperformed, with MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan IT index up 1%.

Data showed that China's consumer price index fell 0.1% in May from a month earlier, missing forecasts. On an annual basis, they rose 0.3%.

China's blue chips were last down 0.1%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index extended earlier losses to fall 1.2%, also weighed by a 27% plunge in China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group, after the unit of developer China Evergrande warned of losing assets.

Overnight on Wall Street, Apple surged 7% to a record high a day after it unveiled new AI features meant to rekindle demand for iPhones. That helped Nasdaq Composite rise 0.9% and the S&P 500 gain 0.3% to record closing highs.

This also lifted tech-heavy Taiwan and South Korean shares, gaining 0.7% and 0.3%, respectively.

Elsewhere, caution reigned as focus turns to the U.S. CPI data later in the day, which is forecast to rise a slim 0.1% in May from a month earlier, but with the core up 0.3%.

S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures both were flat in Asian trading.

"The countdown is on, with the market going into full risk management mode," said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone. "There aren't a whole lot of reasons to jump in and support the opening weakness either, so we could easily see further selling on open."

"I like to use US core CPI m/m as my simple playbook guide, so any number that rounds to 0.2% m/m could offer relief in risk markets and bring out USD sellers, while a number that rounds to 0.4% could see US two-year yields rise and with it the USD comes in hot."

In the currency markets, the dollar index has maintained all of its post-payrolls gains since Friday, looming large at 105.31 against its major peers.

The euro was nursing heavy losses at $1.0734, down for a fourth straight session, amid political turmoil brought about by far right gains in European elections and the snap election in France.

Hours after the release of the U.S. CPI data, the Fed is considered certain to hold steady at its policy meeting, but the focus is on whether it keeps three rate cuts in its "dot plot" projections for this year.

Futures imply 39 basis points of Fed easing for this year, equivalent to just one and a half cuts.

Treasury yields, which fell overnight on the robust result of a 10-year Treasury auction, steadied. The 10-year yield held at 4.4099%, after falling 7 bps the previous session.

"Treasuries will react to the dot plot and possible dovish lean from Powell with a modest bull steepening. However, continued range trading is likely given ongoing "data dependent" outlook," said analysts at TD Securities.

Oil prices extended gains for a third straight session. Brent futures rose 0.2% to $83.11 a barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.4 to $78.19 a barrel.

Gold prices edged 0.2% lower to $2,311.80 per ounce.


(Reporting by Stella Qiu; Editing by Rashmi Aich)