Asian shares firmer after Fed cuts rates
Tokyo — Asian shares jumped on Thursday to a three-month high and the dollar fell broadly after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates as expected and US Treasury yields declined.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.68% to the highest since July 30. Hong Kong shares rose 1.16%, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index rose 0.2%.
US Treasury yields slipped in Asia after the rate cut, but Fed chair Jerome Powell signalled additional trims are unlikely because there are several areas of strength in the US economy.
The yen held onto gains versus the dollar after the Bank of Japan (BOJ) keep its ultra-easy monetary policy in place as expected and changed its forward guidance to more clearly signal the future chance of a rate cut.
Debate at the Fed and the BOJ highlights the struggle many central banks are facing.
The US-China trade war and Britain’s divorce from the EU have increased uncertainty, but central banks are somewhat reluctant to ease policy aggressively because interest rates are already very low in many major economies.
“The biggest thing that stands out is stocks look stronger after the Fed,” said Tsutomu Soma, GM of fixed-income business solutions at SBI Securities in Tokyo.
“Risks like US-China or Brexit haven’t been resolved completely, but the markets are starting to look beyond these risks.”
US stock futures edged 0.01% higher on Thursday in Asia after the S&P 500 rose 0.33% to close at a record high on Wednesday for the second time in three trading sessions.
A positive mood on Wall Street carried over to Asian equities, except for Australian shares, which fell 0.51% after weak earnings from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.
The Fed lowered its policy rate to 1.50%-1.75%, but dropped a previous reference in its statement to “act as appropriate” to sustain the economic expansion.
In his news conference, Powell listed several reasons why he feels the economy is doing well, such as robust consumer spending, strengthening home sales and healthy asset prices.
The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes fell to 1.7785% in Asia on Thursday, while the two-year yield eased slightly to 1.6216%.
The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies fell 0.34% to 97.318, extending declines from Wednesday.
News that Chile will not host the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in mid-November was one reason the dollar was dented, as the market had been expecting the US and China to sign a partial trade deal there.
But despite the setback in Chile, Chinese officials voiced optimism that Beijing and Washington can find a way to clinch the so-called Phase One trade deal in November.
The greenback fell to 7.0420 yuan in onshore trade, the lowest since August 19.
The yen rose 0.2% to 108.67/$, holding onto gains after the BOJ left policy unchanged as expected.
Traders will focus on BOJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s media briefing later on Thursday to gauge how he assesses the risks posed by the US-China trade war and Brexit.
Optimism that Washington and Beijing will sign a preliminary agreement to call a truce to their trade war was a factor behind the Fed’s decision to signal that further rate cuts are on hold, highlighting the importance of trade talks to global monetary policy.
In the energy market, oil futures erased losses and rose in Asia on Thursday after a massive build-up in US crude stockpiles triggered a decline in futures on Wednesday.
US crude erased losses and rose 0.22% to $55.18 a barrel. Brent crude rose 0.45% to $60.88 a barrel.
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