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Asian stocks mostly higher ahead of Fed’s rate decision

/ 01:46 PM December 14, 2016
Japan Financial Markets

Men walk past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Asian stocks were lower Tuesday following Wall Street’s declines while oil prices eased after two days of strong gains. AP

SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stock markets were mostly higher on Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates. The Fed was widely expected to announce later in the day an increase in the key policy rate for the first time in a year.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged 0.1 percent higher to 19,270.35 and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.1 percent to 3,157.06. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1 percent to 2,035.12, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.5 percent to 22,558.20 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.8 percent to 5,588.10. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mixed.

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FED WATCH: Market investors expect the Federal Reserve to announce a rate hike, the first since December 2015, at the end of the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday. Investors will listen for clues about future policy and the economic outlook under President-elect Donald Trump from Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference. The central bank has kept rates low since the 2008 financial crisis.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Against a backdrop of solid US economic data, an improving jobs market and changes that Trump Administration could potentially bring to the capital market, expectation for a 25 basis points rate hike by the Federal Reserve hit 100 percent several weeks ago,” said Margaret Yang of CMC Markets.

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WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished higher on Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 114.78 points, or 0.6 percent, to 19,911.21. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 14.76 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,271.72. The Nasdaq composite climbed 51.29 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,463.83.

JAPAN TANKAN: The Bank of Japan’s quarterly “tankan” survey of more than 10,000 companies found improved confidence among big Japanese manufacturers as the yen has weakened against the U.S. dollar since Trump was elected U.S. president. The report comes a day before the Bank of Japan is due to hold its last meeting of the year, where it is expected to leave policy unchanged given hints of improved conditions in the economy, the world’s fourth largest.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 61 cents at $52.37 per barrel in New York. The contract rose 15 cents to close at $52.98 on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 58 cents to $55.14 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 115.20 yen from 115.06 yen. The euro was flat at $1.0635. TVJ

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TAGS: Asian economy, Asian stock markets, Asian stocks, Federal Reserve, Nikkei
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