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Asian markets mostly lower after Fed-fuelled rally


[HONG KONG] Asian markets mostly retreated on Friday as investors took their cash off the table after the previous day's rally that was fuelled by the Federal Reserve's dovish interest rate outlook.

The dollar was slightly lower against the euro and yen, but analysts said they expect the currency to resume its advance as the Fed prepares for a rate hike while the Japanese and European central banks print more cash.

Providing support to the euro on Friday was news that Greece has agreed to give creditors a new list of reforms within days in order to secure bailout funds.

Tokyo dipped 0.17 per cent, Hong Kong lost 0.21 per cent and Seoul gave back 0.21 per cent, while Sydney was flat but Shanghai gained 0.17 per cent.

Global markets surged after the Fed on Wednesday lowered its expectations for interest rates through to the end of next year, while also cutting its economic growth forecasts.

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That cooled expectations for a rate rise in early summer, sending the dollar tumbling and stocks rising. At one point in New York on Wednesday, after the announcement, it fell to 119.57 yen while the euro was at US$1.1010.

However, after the initial euphoria subsided, the greenback recovered and profit-takers moved in.

The Dow eased 0.65 per cent and the S&P 500 shed 0.49 per cent, but the Nasdaq added 0.19 per cent.

In Tokyo the dollar was at 120.70 yen early Friday, compared with 120.80 yen in New York late Thursday.

The euro bought US$1.0683 and 128.89 yen against US$1.0660 and 128.77 yen.

"We're seeing a bit of profit taking here," Hartmut Issel, the Singapore-based head of equity, credit and macro for the Asia-Pacific chief investment office at UBS Wealth Management, told Bloomberg TV.

"I wouldn't recommend to lose sight of the bigger picture. Yes, the Fed is currently a bit more dovish than we thought going into the meeting, but we are still talking about a very strong US economy, with a strong labor market." The euro was set to receive support from news that Greece has agreed to give creditors a new list of reforms within days in order to secure bailout funds.

Based on a deal last month to extend an EU-IMF rescue package for Athens, a statement said "Greek authorities will have the ownership of the reforms and will present a full list of specific reforms in the next days".

The announcement came after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held talks with key European counterparts on the sidelines of a summit in Brussels Thursday. Afterwards, Tsipras said Greece's bailout was "back on track".

While the crisis is not yet over, the news will come as a relief to markets as an ongoing standoff over Athens' bailout has raised fears it will crash out of the eurozone.

Oil prices were mixed. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April delivery fell 11 US cents to US$43.85 and Brent crude for May climbed 17 US cents to US$54.60 in morning trade.

Gold fetched US$1,171.49 against US$1,164.38 late Thursday.


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