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Asia: Markets rally after dovish Fed minutes

Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 10:39
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- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

[HONG KONG] Asian markets rallied Thursday following an upswing on Wall Street as minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting indicated policymakers were nervous about hiking interest rates too soon.

The minutes show the central bank board aired worries about the stronger dollar, a stumbling eurozone economy, slowing growth in China and Japan and geopolitical risks.

The news sent the euro up against the greenback and it held on to most of those gains in early Asian trade.

Tokyo rose 0.46 per cent, Hong Kong added 1.21 per cent, Sydney climbed 1.58 per cent and Shanghai was up 0.12 per cent.

Seoul was closed for a public holiday.

Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting showed that despite strong domestic data, members debated changing their signal on the timing of a rate hike owing to problems overseas.

"Some participants expressed concern that the persistent shortfall of economic growth and inflation in the euro area could lead to a further appreciation of the dollar and have adverse effects on the US external sector," the minutes said.

"Several" of them added "that slower economic growth in China or Japan or unanticipated events in the Middle East or Ukraine might pose a similar risk." The post-meeting statement said it would wait for some "considerable time" before lifting rates but according to the minutes there were fears that the reference "could be misunderstood as a commitment rather than as data dependent".

A string of impressive US data in recent months has fuelled speculation the Fed will likely announce a rise before a mid-2015 timetable.

Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities, said: "Traders' interpretation was that rates are not going to be going up that much or as quickly as maybe people are fearing." This has sent the dollar surging to multi-year highs against major currencies while also hitting Asian equities as traders take their cash back to the United States for better investment returns.

The news sent US shares surging, with the Dow up 1.62 per cent, the S&P 500 jumping 1.73 per cent and the Nasdaq climbing 1.90 per cent.

And in currency dealing the yen and euro made inroads against the greenback.

In New York the euro climbed to US$1.2734 from US$1.2667.

And in early Asian trade Thursday the single currency - which sank to a two-year low of US$1.2500 last week as the eurozone economy struggles - was at US$1.2727. It also fetched 137.65 yen compared with 137.71 yen.

The dollar was at 108.04 yen against 108.14 yen in New York Wednesday.

Oil prices rebounded after a recent sell-off. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate rose 49 cents to US$87.80 a barrel in mid-morning trade and Brent crude advanced 41 cents to US$91.79.

Gold was at US$1,221.74 an ounce against US$1,217.96 late Wednesday. - AFP

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