Asian shares higher after Fed kept interest rates unchanged

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Most Asian stocks rose Thursday, tracking gains on Wall Street after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged and forecast it will raise rates more gradually than it had envisioned last year.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.2 percent to 16,936.38, shedding substantial gains in the morning. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 1.2 percent to 20,503.23. Australia's S&P ASX 200 gained 1 percent to 5,168.20. Shanghai's composite index came back from early losses to gain 1.5 percent to 2,911.88. South Korea's KOSPI added 0.7 percent to 1,987.99. Southeast Asian markets also were higher.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "The Federal Reserve has inspired Asian markets today," said IG Chief Market Strategist Chris Weston. "Clearly, when the Fed are concerned by heightened global risk and persistently low inflation expectations, the result is traders reaching for the buy button."

WALL STREET GAINS: Stocks are now on track for a fifth straight week of gains and the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at their highest levels since the first trading day of the year. The Dow gained 74.23 points Wednesday, or 0.4 percent, to 17,325.76. The S&P 500 index rose 11.29 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,027.22. The Nasdaq composite index rose 35.30 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,763.97.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 73 cents to $39.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising $2.12 to $38.46 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, rose 54 cents to $40.87 a barrel. On Wednesday it gained $1.59 to $40.33.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.86 yen from 112.77 in the previous day's trading. The euro rose to $1.1241 from $1.1215.