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Asian markets to focus on Fed's third rate hike of the year; US dollar slides

U.S. stocks were mostly higher ahead of Asia’s Thursday trading day after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time this year.

The Fed raised interest rates by a quarter point on Wednesday, in a move that was widely expected by markets. That increased the central bank’s target range to between 1.25 percent and 1.5 percent.

Also of note, the Federal Open Market Committee raised its GDP forecast from 2.1 percent to 2.5 percent. Its inflation forecast was raised from 1.6 percent to 1.7 percent.

U.S. consumer prices released on Wednesday had shown an acceleration in November, with the CPI rising 0.4 percent. The core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose just 0.1 percent from a month ago.

Meanwhile, House and Senate Republicans came to a tentative agreement on their tax plan. The deal will cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, CNBC as reported earlier.

The dollar was broadly lower following those developments, with the dollar index coming in at 93.434 at 6:56 a.m. HK/SIN. That was below the 93.9 handle seen around the end of Asian trade on Wednesday on news that Democrat Doug Jones was projected to win a special Senate election in the deeply conservative state of Alabama.

Against the Japanese currency, the greenback fetched 112.67.

The Dow Jones industrial average posted a record close on Wednesday. The Dow tacked on 0.33 percent, or 80.63 points, to close at 24,585.43 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 0.2 percent to end at 6,875.80. The S&P 500 closed just a touch below the flat line at 2,662.85 as financial stocks declined after the Fed’s latest rate hike.

In Asia, futures implied a lower open for equities in Japan. Nikkei futures traded in Chicago were off 0.23 percent at 22,705 and Osaka futures were 0.43 percent lower at 22,660.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 edged up by 0.19 percent in early trade, with energy and information technology stocks posting gains of more than 1 percent.

Toyota and Panasonic on Wednesday announced an agreement to begin a study to advance the development of automotive batteries. The move comes as other Japanese automakers, such as Nissan and Honda, have warmed to the prospects of electric vehicles.

Australian department store chain Myer on Thursday indicated its first-half for the 2018 financial year results would be “materially below” the previous corresponding period. The company blamed a decline in foot traffic and industry discounting for the expected fall in profit. Myer shares tumbled 6.9 percent early in the day.

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

  • 8:30 a.m.: Australia November employment data
  • 10:00 a.m.: China industrial production, retail sales and industrial production
  • 12:30 p.m.: Japan October industrial production
  • 2:30 p.m.: India wholesale price index
  • 4:00 p.m.: Philippine central bank interest rate decision

The Bank of England and European Central Bank are also due to make interest rate decisions during the European trading day.

Source: cnbc china
Asian markets to focus on Fed's third rate hike of the year; US dollar slides

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