HONG KONG – World stock benchmarks were uneven Thursday as investors digested an upbeat Fed assessment of the U.S. economy that raised the prospect of further rate hikes, while anticipating more stimulus from Japan.
KEEPING SCORE: European shares were mostly higher in early trading. France’s CAC 40 added 0.4 per cent to 2,165.10 and Germany’s DAX advanced 0.2 per cent to 10,338.88. Britain’s FTSE 100 dipped 0.1 per cent 6,743.06. U.S. stocks were poised to open higher. Dow futures rose 0.2 per cent to 18,422.00 and broader S&P 500 futures climbed 0.2 per cent to 2,164.80.
FED VIEW: While policymakers at the U.S. central bank voted to keep interest rates unchanged, they noted that “near-term risks” to the world’s biggest economy have diminished. The Fed said the U.S. job market has rebounded with signs that hiring is robust. It didn’t give a timetable for when it might resume raising rates but analysts said its latest statement revives that possibility.
JAPAN IN FOCUS: Investors are now hoping for fresh stimulus efforts from the Bank of Japan, which is expected to vote Friday on expanding monetary policy measures aimed at reviving sputtering growth in Asia’s second biggest economy. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced 28 trillion yen ($266 billion) in extra government spending to jumpstart growth, but details are uncertain.
QUOTEWORTHY: “All focus will be on the Bank of Japan on Friday and trading will be cautious heading into the event,” said Alex Furber of CMC Markets in Singapore.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 1.1 per cent to end at 16,476.84 and South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.2 per cent to 2,021.10. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.2 per cent to 22,174.34 while the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China crept up 0.1 per cent to 2,994.32. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.3 per cent to 5,556.60. Benchmarks in New Zealand, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia gained while those in Singapore and the Philippines fell.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 11 cents to $42.04 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1, or roughly 2.3 per cent, to close at $41.92 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 21 cents to $43.71 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 104.78 yen from 105.15 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1099 from $1.1064.