Asian indexes mixed, weighing prospects of fewer Fed hikes

Posted March 18, 2017

Shares in Asia fell early on Wednesday with a widely expected hike in USA interest rates later in the day weighing on sentiment.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged down 0.4 percent to finish at 19,521.59.

Asian stocks rose Thursday following a US rate hike and a Eurosceptic party's defeat in Dutch elections.

In what was quiet day for top-tier economic data releases, upbeat USA economic data had a muted effect on equities.

The broader Topix declined 0.2 percent to 1,568.15 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 0.2 percent to 14,048.02.

Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.1 percent to 7,373.68 while France's CAC 40 fell 0.3 percent to 4,984.99.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.19% lower at 20,842.

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Singapore's Straits Times lost 5.97 points or 0.19 percent to end at 3,137.43.

Investing.com offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets. "On one hand, the market ponders a surprise hold, in which, massive unwinding of positions could take place with the hike already priced in", Pan said. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 also was steady at 5,759.10. Stocks in Taiwan were higher and in Southeast Asia, markets were mixed.

Risk sentiment was dampened with analysts widely expecting the base interest rate to be raised by half a percent, pushing it to a range of 1% to 1.25%.

The Japanese and British central banks also meet this week. Many economists expect the Bank of England to hold steady.

"The progressive improvement in both labour market conditions and lift in inflation rates in the United States certainly validates the Fed's move this week", said Jingyi Pan, market analyst at IG in Singapore. The Netherlands has its own election this week, where politicians have also railed against the European Union and immigrants.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 2 cents to $48.42 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 114.81 yen from 114.88 yen while the euro held steady at $1.065. Brent crude, which is used to price worldwide oils, gained 4 cents to $51.78 a barrel.