Friday 18 January 2019
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todayonline - 2 month ago

Asia stocks sag as Fed tempers Wall Street rally, dollar firm

TOKYO - Asian stocks dipped on Friday as Wall Street took a breather after the Federal Reserve kept intact its plans to continue raising interest rates at a gradual pace, with a fourth hike for this year expected next month. MSCI s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lt;.MIAPJ0000PUS gt; eased 0.06 percent. The index was still headed for a sizable gain of more than 6 percent this week, during which it rose to a one-month high. Australian stocks lt;.AXJO gt; were flat, South Korea s KOSPI lt;.KS11 gt; edged up 0.2 percent and Japan s Nikkei lt;.N225 gt; fell 0.2 percent. The Fed held interest rates steady on Thursday but remained on track to keep gradually tightening borrowing costs, as it pointed to a healthy economy that was marred only by a dip in the growth of business investment. The central bank has hiked U.S. interest rates three times this year and is widely expected to do so again next month. The S P 500 lt;.SPX gt; lost 0.25 percent and the Nasdaq lt;.IXIC gt; shed 0.53 percent on Thursday after the Fed s statement, and energy stocks were the biggest drag on the S P as U.S. crude oil prices fell. [.N] With the U.S. midterm congressional elections out of the way, Wall Street shares had spiked midweek on a relief rally. The Fed meeting outcome and its statement did not produce major surprises, but it managed to reinforce views that a rate hike is coming in December and this tempered equities, said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management in Tokyo. The Fed statement came after a steep surge in equities and gave the markets an opportunity to sell into the rally. In currencies, with Treasury yields pushing up, the dollar stood tall after advancing against its peers overnight, buoyed by Fed s largely upbeat economic outlook and its intent to keep tightening monetary policy. The dollar traded at 113.995 yen lt;JPY= gt; after brushing a five-week high of 114.09 overnight. The euro was steady at $1.1365 lt;EUR= gt; having shed 0.55 percent the previous day. Thanks to the greenback s gains against the euro and yen, the dollar index against a basket of six major currencies lt;.DXY gt; gained 0.75 percent on Thursday. After the Fed statement, the two-year Treasury yield lt;US2YT=RR gt; rose to 2.977 percent, the highest in 10-1/2 years.[US/] Crude oil prices struggled near eight-month lows as investors focused on swelling global crude supply, which is increasing more quickly than many had expected. [O/R] The market took stock of record U.S. crude production and signals from Iraq, Abu Dhabi and Indonesia that output will grow more quickly than expected in 2019. U.S. crude futures lt;CLc1 gt; were little changed at $60.69 per barrel after falling to $60.67 the previous day, the lowest since March 14. REUTERS

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