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Asian dealers ease back after Fed-fuelled rally

Friday, September 23, 2016 - 17:09
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[HONG KONG] Investors took a breather in Asia Friday after two days of strong gains while the US dollar recovered some ground on the yen after the Federal Reserve's decision to hold interest rates sent it tumbling.

World equities and high-yielding currencies have soared since Wednesday when the Bank of Japan said it would target boosting inflation and the Federal Reserve pressed on with policies that make cash cheap.

But trading floors calmed down as dealers headed into the weekend, with markets moving in and out of positive territory during early exchanges.

The announcements soothed concerns that the years of ultra-low borrowing costs could be nearing an end as central bankers run out of ideas on how to kickstart torpid growth.

"There's a very bullish case for equities considering that the Fed is now expecting only two rate hikes in 2017," James Woods, a strategist at Rivkin Securities in Sydney, told Bloomberg News.

"There are uncertainties that could shake up some volatility in the market, including the US elections in November."

Tokyo's Nikkei - which was closed Thursday for a holiday a day after surging 1.9 per cent - finished down 0.3 per cent, with a stronger yen offsetting the euphoria of the BOJ's easy money move.

Hong Kong and Shanghai both closed 0.3 per cent lower, while Sydney put on 1.1 per cent and Seoul gained 0.2 per cent.

Singapore was flat and Wellington ended 0.2 per cent down.

The US dollar climbed as high as 101.23 yen from 100.77 yen in New York, having dallied with 100 yen soon after the Fed report.

"Even though there are plenty of calls for (the US dollar) to fall (against the yen), and the US dollar to lose ground against the euro, the question traders are asking themselves is why?" said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at forex provider AxiTrader.

"This is because the US economy is stronger, its rates are higher, and it's holding support reasonably well at the moment."

The greenback also made inroads against high-yielding units, jumping 0.3 per cent against the Australian dollar and 0.2 per cent against the South Korean won. It was also up 0.3 per cent on the Indonesian rupiah.

The Malaysian ringgit, Singapore dollar and Philippine peso also retreated.

On oil markets, attention is shifting to next week's meeting of top producers in Algeria that will address a global supply glut that has hammered prices.

Both contracts slipped Friday in Asia after two days of gains.

West Texas Intermediate dipped 37 US cents to US$45.95 and Brent shed 28 US cents to US$47.37.

In early European trade London and Paris shed 0.3 per cent, Frankfurt fell 0.1 per cent.

AFP