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Asian stocks rebound after US gains, Fed signal of patience on possible rate hike

BANGKOK – Asian stocks rebounded Thursday after Wall Street gained and the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled it intends to keep interest rates low for now.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 0.5 per cent to 15,666.13 after losing 1.2 per cent the previous day. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.9 per cent at 23,468.41 points while Sydney, Singapore and Taiwan also gained. China’s Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.4 per cent to 2,372.41 points.

WALL STREET: The U.S. stock market had its best day this year, erasing Wednesday’s loss. The Dow Jones industrial average added 1.6 per cent and the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 1.8 per cent. The Nasdaq composite was up 1.9 per cent. All three had their biggest one-day percentage gains on 2014.

THE FED: Minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting showed policymakers would start to raise interest rates only after the economy came close to the U.S. central bank’s goals for maximum employment with inflation running at an annual rate of 2 per cent. The minutes revealed policymakers’ concern about the impact on the United States of a strong dollar, which can drag on exports, and weak Eurozone growth.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “U.S. growth is slow. Foreign growth is slower. The Fed is ending QE just when everyone else is getting ready to ramp it up. And the Fed has no choice but to be deliberately vague about when rate hikes may eventually come,” said DBS Group in a report.

GLOBAL GROWTH: The IMF cut its outlook for this year and next for global growth, citing weakness in Japan, Latin America and Europe. The IMF expects the global economy will grow 3.3 per cent this year, slightly below what it forecast in July. Europe, in particular, has been weak. Germany said Tuesday that its industrial output fell 4 per cent in August, far more than expected.

EUROPE: Investors were looking ahead to a speech in Washington by Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank. Worries that Europe’s weakness will drag on the United States and other economies have grown after Germany said industrial output fell by 4 per cent in August, more than expected.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 19 cents to $87.50 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the dropped $1.54 to an 18-month low of $87.31 on lower global demand and high supplies. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 36 cents to $91.43.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 107.92 yen from Wednesday’s 108.11 yen. The euro held steady at $1.24.