Fed relief lifts Asian stocks, dents dollar

Fed relief lifts Asian stocks, dents dollar

TOKYO - Most Asian stock markets rose and the dollar dipped on Thursday after the Federal Reserve indicated it was in no rush to begin raising interest rates, even as it began to plan an exit strategy from an era of loose monetary policy.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.3 per cent.

European shares looked set to follow suit, with Germany's DAX seen rising up to 0.1 per cent, though US stock futures were marginally weaker.

Tokyo's Nikkei bucked the trend and fell 0.3 per cent, weighed down by a record drop in machinery orders in May that cast doubt over the outlook for capital spending and the strength of its economic recovery.

China's exports in June also missed market forecasts, but caused limited reaction in regional markets as it reinforced expectations that Beijing will have to unveil more stimulus measures to stabilise the economy and meet its 2014 growth target.

"The trade figures were not so exciting. It's still unrealistic to count on exports to be an important contributor to economic growth," said Wang Jun, an economist at the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges in Beijing.

"The import figure showed some signs of improvement on domestic demand. Taken together with weak inflation data, we think domestic demand remains weak. It would be relatively difficult for China to achieve its annual trade growth target of 7.5 per cent in 2014."

Indonesian stocks hit their highest in over a year as the market welcomed the prospect of reform-minded Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo becoming the next president, although his rival has refused to concede defeat after Wednesday's election.

The Jakarta market was up 1.7 per cent after earlier rising more than 2 per cent. The Indonesian rupiah also gained 0.6 per cent to 11,555 to the dollar.


According to minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting released on Wednesday, the central bank acknowledged recent strengthening in the US economy but suggested it was unlikely to raise policy rates until the second half of 2015.

The absence of a more hawkish message from the Fed eased worries over interest rate rises and helped Wall Street snap a two-day slide on Wednesday, while driving US Treasury yields lower.

"The Fed Minutes did not deliver anything new," strategists at CitiFX wrote in a note to clients. "No one expected a more dovish message so the hawks are caught offside."

The dollar's index against a basket of six major currencies dropped to 79.976, its lowest in a week.

The US currency slipped 0.1 per cent to 101.58 yen, weighed down by the lower Treasury yields.

The euro stood little changed at $1.3645 after gaining more than 0.2 per cent against the greenback the previous day.

The New Zealand dollar hit a three-year high against the dollar, riding on a tailwind created after ratings agency Fitch upgraded its outlook on the country's AA rating to positive.

The kiwi touched $0.8839, its highest since August 2011. In contrast, the Australian dollar slipped after a rise in the jobless rate. [AUD/]

In commodities, copper pulled back from a five-month high hit on Tuesday as a rally driven by shrinking supply petered out.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange traded at $7,126.75 a tonne, flat from the previous session. It hit a five-month peak of $7,212 on Tuesday.

Crude oil extended losses on faltering US demand for gasoline and a Libyan oil field resuming output. [O/R]

US crude fell 0.4 per cent to $101.86 per barrel, having fallen to lowest level in a month.

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