Asia Stocks Edge higher after Fed Meeting; Dollar, US Yields Sag

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Australian stocks added 0.2 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI climbed 0.55 percent. Japan’s Nikkei inched up 0.1 percent.


Asian stocks edged higher on Thursday after the Federal Reserve delivered a much-anticipated interest rate hike but flagged caution about inflation, tempering expectations for future tightening, which weighed on the Dollar and Treasury yields.

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As widely expected, the Fed raised rates for the third time this year on Wednesday while sticking to its projection for three rate increases next year.

But the policy tightening was accompanied by concerns about low inflation, toning down expectations for policy tightening in 2018. The Fed projected inflation to remain shy of its goal for another year, giving policymakers little reason to accelerate the expected pace of rate increases.

“The key takeaway from the Fed meeting was the degree of concern shown towards low inflation, which likely led to two dissenting votes,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

“The 10-year Treasury yield fell sharply on the Fed’s stance and lackluster US CPI, which shows that the markets don’t necessarily see the Fed hiking rates three times in 2018.”

The 10-year Treasury yield stood little changed at 2.3547 percent after dropping nearly 6 basis points overnight.

Data earlier on Wednesday showed US core consumer prices, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, moderated to 0.1 percent in November from a 0.2 percent increase in October.

The Dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 93.409 after sliding about 0.7 percent on Wednesday to pull away from a one-month top of 94.219 set on Tuesday.

The Fed’s less hawkish statements supported MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which rose 0.3 percent.

Australian stocks added 0.2 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI climbed 0.55 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei inched up 0.1 percent.

The Dollar was a shade higher at 112.730 yen after losing 0.9 percent overnight.

The Euro was steady at USD 1.1832 following gains of 0.7 percent the previous day.

The immediate focus for the euro was on the European Central Bank policy decision due later in the day. The ECB is expected to stand pat on monetary policy and the markets will be awaiting President Mario Draghi’s views on the eurozone economy for potential incentives.

In commodities, US crude futures rose 0.35 percent to USD 56.81, lifted by the weaker Dollar.

Oil prices had slipped for a second straight day on Wednesday, as a slump in US crude stockpiles was offset by a larger-than-forecast rise in gasoline inventories and as US crude output continued to grow to record highs.


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