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Asian shares to focus on mixed US lead after Fed decision

Stocks on Wall Street closed mixed and the dollar firmed overnight after the Federal Reserve kept interest rates steady ahead of Asia’s Thursday trading day.

The Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged following the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, a move that was largely expected by markets. The central bank did not explicitly signal when the next interest rate hike would come, but said economic activity in the U.S. was “rising at a solid rate.”

Still, markets took that as an indication that the Fed would likely raise interest rates in December. Odds for a December rate hike stood at 96.7 percent, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool early on Thursday.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump will choose Fed Governor Jerome “Jay” Powell to be the next chair of the central bank, the Wall Street Journal said, citing a source. Trump is due to make his formal announcement on the matter on Thursday U.S. time. Current Fed chair Janet Yellen’s term will expire in February 2018.

Economic data released on Wednesday showed the U.S. economy was chugging along solidly. The ISM manufacturing index in October hit 58.7, a touch better than the 58.6 forecast in a Reuters poll. Meanwhile, a total of 235,000 private-sector jobs were created in October, above an estimate of 200,000 forecast by economists in a Reuters survey. Nonfarm payrolls numbers are expected on Friday during U.S. hours.

Ahead, investors will keep an eye on the Bank of England, which is expected to raise interest rates for the first time in more than 10 years on Thursday.

Stateside, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday after the Fed held interest rates steady. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.25 percent, or 57.77 points, to end at 23,435.01 and the S&P 500 rose 0.16 percent, or 4.10 points, to close at 2,579.36. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite bucked the trend and closed lower by 0.17 percent at 6,716.53.

In Asia, futures implied a slightly higher open for Japanese equities after the Nikkei 225 hit its highest levels since 1996 in the prior session. Nikkei futures traded in Chicago were up 0.45 percent at 22,520 and Osaka futures were 0.4 percent higher at 22,510. Those were above the benchmark index’s Wednesday close of 22,420.08.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.23 percent in early trade.

Asian corporates on the earnings calendar include National Australia Bank, Suzuki Motor and Sembcorp.

Honda expects full-year operating profit in the year ending March to come in at 745 billion yen ($6.53 billion), above its earlier estimate of 725 billion yen, Reuters said. The upward revision was attributed to solid auto sales in China, Reuters added.

Meanwhile, CK Asset Holdings announced on Wednesday it was selling a property in the Hong Kong central business district for a record 40.2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($5.15 billion).

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of six rivals, firmed to trade at 94.815 at 6:52 a.m. HK/SIN. Against the yen, the greenback traded at 114.13, compared to levels around the 113 handle seen at the beginning of the week.

The British pound edged down ahead of the Bank of England’s rates decision. The currency last traded at $1.3247.

Oil prices settled lower on Wednesday after touching their highest levels in two years. The slide in prices followed the release of U.S. government data showing the draw in U.S. crude stocks fell short of the level earlier reported by the American Petroleum Institute. Brent crude declined 0.74 percent to settle at $60.49 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate was off 0.15 percent at $54.30.

The economic calendar for Asia is fairly light on Thursday (all times in HK/SIN):

  • 8:30 a.m.: Australia September balance of trades
  • 12:00 p.m.: Thailand October consumer confidence
  • 1:00 p.m.: Japan October consumer confidence

Source: cnbc china
Asian shares to focus on mixed US lead after Fed decision

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