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Asia shares mixed after Fed decision


[HONG KONG] Asian markets were mixed Thursday while the dollar resumed its upward march against the yen after the Federal Reserve wound up its vast bond-buying scheme and reiterated its plan to keep interest rates at record lows.

Tokyo climbed 0.63 per cent and Sydney rose 0.46 per cent, while Shanghai dipped 0.19 per cent, Hong Kong slipped 0.17 per cent and Seoul lost 0.65 per cent.

After a two-day meeting the US central bank's policy committee said it would bring an end to six years of monetary easing as the economy gets back on track.

And to reassure investors worried about the global economy, it also said it would keep near-zero interest rates for "a considerable time" after the end of the quantitative easing programme, sticking to its timetable of an increase well into 2015.

However, while the decision was widely expected, its optimistic comments on the state of the jobs market were considered by analysts to be more hawkish than in the past, fuelling speculation of a possible earlier rate hike.

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"The Fed is positioning itself, but it hasn't taken the decision" to raise rates, said Gregori Volokhine, president of Meeschaert Capital Markets. "Its action still depends on how the economy performs." Traders will be keeping a close eye on the Fed's moves over the next few months, with fears that a hike too early could hurt overseas economies.

World markets took a beating earlier this month on fears about the global outlook, with China, Japan and the eurozone still struggling, despite the pick-up in the United States.

Wednesday's announcement sent the dollar surging on expectations there will be less cash swirling around the economy.

It was at 109.08 yen early Thursday in Japan, against 108.90 yen in New York and sharply up from 108.12 yen in Tokyo earlier Wednesday.

The euro bought US$1.2620, compared with $1.2634 in US trade and well down from Wednesday's US$1.2737 in Asia. The single currency was at 137.55 yen compared with 137.60 yen.

On Wall Street the three main indexes ended lower after clocking up a string of healthy gains over the past week and a half.

The Dow slipped 0.19 per cent, the S&P 500 fell 0.14 per cent and the Nasdaq dropped 0.33 per cent.

In oil trade US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December fell 30 US cents to close at US$81.90 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude slipped 20 cents to US$86.92.

Gold was at US$1,214.42 an ounce, against US$1,227.70 late Wednesday.


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