Jan 26 (Reuters) - New Zealand shares traded flat on Wednesday, hovering near their 10-month lows as investors looked to the U.S. Federal Reserve for signs of a quicker-than-expected rate hike, with trading subdued owing to closure of Australian equity markets.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 11.74 points to 12,139.95 at 2228 GMT, lingering near its lowest level since March 9 it touched on Monday. About 3.1 million shares changed hands in early trade, compared with the 30-day average of 21.5 million.

Markets in Australia were closed for a public holiday.

Investors now await U.S. Federal Reserve's decision, expected later in the day, which would likely flesh out timing on expected rate hikes and dwindling of its massive balance sheet.

New Zealand has imposed restrictions https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/new-zealand-impose-restrictions-after-omicron-community-spread-2022-01-22 starting this week limiting gathering after a cluster of nine cases of the Omicron variant showed community transmission, prompting a move to a red setting under its COVID-19 protection framework.

On Wednesday, electricity generator Meridian Energy and Ryman Healthcare jumped 1.4% each, with Meridian snapping a three-day losing streak.

Air New Zealand advanced as much as 1.8% to mark its best intraday jump since Jan. 5, while infrastructure investor Infratil Ltd gained as much as 0.8% in its second straight day of gains.

Among losers, infant formula maker a2 Milk Co fell as much as 3.3% after advancing 6% in the previous session after a media report flagged it could be a possible buyout target for Canadian dairy firm Saputo Inc.

Auckland International Airport and SmartPay Holdings were also among the top weights on the benchmark, declining 2% and 2.5%, respectively. (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)