Asian Stocks Rise as Fed Holds Fire

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Asian stocks shot higher across the board Thursday, buoyed by the U.S.Federal Reserve's decision not to raise interest rates, as well as rising commodity prices.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was up 1.6%, Korea's Kospi was 1.2% higher, while the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.8% and the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.8%. The Nikkei Stock Average was closed in Japan for a public holiday.

"The BOJ [Bank of Japan] and FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] moves sent the equities market into a risk-off mood," said Hongwei Lee, a sales trader at Saxo Bank.

Fed officials also cut their 2016 growth forecast for the U.S. economy to 1.8%, from a 2.0% projection in June, and lowered their long-term view on the growth rate to 1.8% from 2%.

Some in the market were caught off-guard by the strength of the relief rally.

"It took me a bit by surprise," said Daniel So, a strategist at China Merchants Bank International. "Of course it is good news for the financial markets in the short term, but the market has expected this and the interest rate risk hasn't gone away."

The Fed's move followed the BOJ's announcement Wednesday that it left unchanged its negative interest rate on excess deposits with the central bank. It also said that it would introduce a 10-year interest-rate target—action that amounted to a commitment to steepen the yen yield curve.

Despite the dissent of three of the more hawkish FOMC members, the consensus around a rate increase before the end of the year appears solid. According to Chicago Mercantile Exchange's FedWatch tool, there is a 59.3% chance of a change in interest rates at the December meeting, a touch higher than the previous day's probability.

In Japan, government and central-bank officials said they planned to meet later on Thursday to discuss global markets, the Ministry of Finance said, in a move underscoring their renewed concerns about the rising yen.

Elsewhere, oil and metals prices rose strongly as U.S. inventory data showed domestic crude inventories at the lowest level since February and the dollar softened. The global Brent crude benchmark gained $0.40 to trade at $47.36 a barrel, while copper and aluminum rose 0.8% and 0.9%, respectively. The move higher supported related stocks. In Australia, BHP Billiton increased 3.2% and Rio Tinto jumped 3.7%.

On Singapore's FTSE Straits Times, Secura Group surged 7.7% after the security services provider announced that it had won a contract worth 7.9 million Singapore dollars ($5.8 million) to provide unarmed guards and other security services to SingTel, Singapore's biggest telecommunications firm. The company now has an order book of S$27.7 million, it said. Secura outperformed the broader index's 0.3% gain.

Looking ahead, investors will be watching out for U.S. employment data at 12.30 GMT, which could trigger market tremors.

Write to Ese Erheriene at ese.erheriene@wsj.com


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  09-21-162305ET
  Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.



This article appears in: Energy , Commodities
Referenced Symbols: 8301 , BBL , BHP , BHP1 , BIL


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