HONG KONG (AP) - Asian stock markets wavered Thursday after the Federal Reserve sounded a note of caution on the world economy and its effect on U.S. growth but left the door open for rate hikes.
HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stock markets wavered Thursday after the Federal Reserve sounded a note of caution on the world economy and its effect on U.S. growth but left the door open for rate hikes.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index gave up early gains to slip 0.4 percent to 17,098.60. South Korea's Kospi added 0.5 percent to 1,906.56. Hong Kong's Hang Seng also turned negative in the afternoon session, dipping 0.1 percent to 19,029.62. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China lost 0.8 percent to 2,711.53. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.6 percent to 4,976.20. Markets in Taiwan and Southeast Asia rose.
POLICY PACE: The Federal Reserve issued a cautious assessment of the global economy while also downgrading its view of U.S. growth, after officials from the central bank wrapped up their latest policy meeting Wednesday. The Fed's December rate hike had raised expectations of several more increases this year, with the first as early as March. That was a prospect that unsettled investors used to years of easy credit fueling a boom in stock markets. However, in their latest statement, officials suggested that if stock market turmoil and global economic weakness persist, they might slow down the pace of interest rate hikes though they gave themselves room to maneuver by not committing outright to a delay.
ANALYST VIEW: "In terms of the Fed overnight: It's clear that global central banks are now starting to be concerned about the impact of global growth worries and the latest plunge in oil prices in terms of meeting their inflation targets and as a result are now starting to sound more dovish," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney, said in a report.
WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks sank on the Fed's statement. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.4 percent to 15,944.46 and the Standard & Poor's 500 dropped 1.1 percent to 1,882.95. A slump in tech stocks hammered the Nasdaq composite index, which lost 2.2 percent to 4,468.17.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose lost 31 cents to $31.99 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 85 cents, or 2.7 percent, to close at $32.30 a barrel on Wednesday in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, fell 29 cents to $33.64 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The euro slipped to $1.0891 from $1.0905. The dollar rose to 118.82 yen from 118.46 yen.