TOKYO (AP) - Asian stocks were mostly lower Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve chief indicated the central bank is on track for an interest rate hike this month and investors awaited the ECB's decision on more stimulus.
TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly lower Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve chief indicated the central bank is on track for an interest rate hike this month and investors awaited the ECB's decision on more stimulus.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 ended little changed at 19,939.90 after recouping losses. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.8 percent to 1,994.07. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.3 percent to 22,406.18 while the Shanghai Composite gained 1.2 percent to 3,579.62. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.6 percent to 5,277.70. Stock benchmarks also fell in Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
FED ACTION: Investors are weighing the prospects that the Fed will raise rates for the first time in nine years at its next policy meeting in mid-December. In comments Wednesday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave an upbeat assessment of the economy's progress since the Fed's last meeting in October, describing it as in line with its expectations for the labor market and inflation. She also was careful to point out the need to review upcoming data, including the U.S. jobs report Friday.
THE QUOTE: "A speech from Fed Chair Yellen pushed investor concerns toward the impact of rate hikes, overshadowing the potential for the ECB to pull the trigger on further stimulus," said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets, in a commentary.
EYES ON EUROPE: The European Central Bank is moving in the opposite direction of the Fed and is expected to expand its stimulus program when policymakers meet on Thursday. It will either expand its bond purchases or cut interest rates further. ECB head Mario Draghi signaled that action is coming this week as the bank seeks to support growth and push inflation higher.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 47 cents to $40.41 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after slipping below the $40 mark the day before. The futures contract dropped $1.91, or 4.6 percent, to $39.94 a barrel in New York on Wednesday. Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international oils, was up 60 cents to $43.09 a barrel in London. It fell $1.95, or 4.4 percent, to $42.49 the previous day.
WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 158.67 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,729.68 on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 23.12 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,079.51 and the Nasdaq composite lost 33.08 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,123.22.
CURRENCIES: The U.S. dollar strengthened to 123.46 yen from its previous close of 123.27 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0592 from $1.0607.
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