Stocks Build Gains in Asia, Courtesy of Fed -- Update

By Ese Erheriene Features Dow Jones Newswires

Equity markets in Asia rose as traders took an optimistic view of the Federal Reserve's latest policy statement, which was broadly supportive of risk assets.

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The statement, which damped expectations for U.S. interest-rate increases, caused few ripples beyond a renewed selloff in the dollar. The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index, which finished Wednesday in New York at its lowest level since Sept. 8, fell a further 0.2% in Asia.

"The Federal Reserve didn't offer many surprises to the market," said Margaret Yang at CMC Markets. As a result, "Asian markets are generally following the U.S. into rally mode."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite logged fresh record closes Wednesday, the first time in a week all three did so.

Despite the dollar's renewed weakness and gains in bond prices, which are generally pressure points for Japanese stocks, the Nikkei was higher, though its gain recently stood at just 0.1%, trailing other regional markets.

Taiwan's Taiex was up 0.8%, helped by gains of more than 1% in a number of major tech companies--3.1% for Compal Electronics; 2.1% for AU Optronics--as quarterly results come in.

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Also helping Asian stocks again Thursday was commodities.

Further overnight gains in metals and oil boosted Australian stocks, outperformers the past several days. The S&P/ASX 200 was recently up 0.3% after earlier hitting its best level of the month. Big miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose a further 1.8% and 1%, respectively.

In Singapore, commodity trading house Noble Group were down 28% after another warning about its results and as it unveiled plans to sell more assets to tide over its liquidity crunch and cut debt. That brings the decline for 2017 to 76%, following drops of 44% last year and 65% in 2015.

The city-state's benchmark Strait Times index was up 0.3%.

Elsewhere, India's Sensex hit another intraday record in gaining 0.7% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index--coming off 12 gains in the past 13 sessions--finished morning trading up 0.5% at another 2-year high.

Lagging behind was China's Shanghai Composite, which includes some of the country's biggest companies. It fell 0.3% in morning trading while the Shenzhen Composite rose 0.6% and the startup-heavy ChiNext index there jumped 2.6% after recent weakness.

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

Global markets advanced and the dollar fell Thursday after the Federal Reserve's latest policy statement damped expectations for U.S. interest-rate increases.

The Stoxx Europe 600 was up 0.1% in early trading, following gains in bourses across Asia. Futures pointed to opening gains on Wall Street.

U.S. stock indexes climbed to fresh records Wednesday after corporate earnings continued to beat Wall Street expectations and investors found a dovish tilt in the Fed's latest statement.

Officials at the U.S. central bank voted unanimously to leave interest rates unchanged and signaled that the central bank could start shrinking its balance sheet "relatively soon." But tweaks in the Fed's statement indicated that policy makers have grown more concerned about a recent slowdown in inflation.

Wednesday's statement said inflation measures "have declined and are running below 2%." The Fed's previous statement said inflation was running "somewhat below" target.

"Fed officials are broadening out their reasoning for tighter monetary policy," said James Knightley, analyst at ING Bank, in a note to clients. "For the market though, they will need to see the data improve before they will be convinced."

Investors see a roughly 47% chance of a rate rise by the end of the year, according to Fed-fund futures tracked by CME Group.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies, was down 0.2%.

Yields on 10-year Treasurys were little changed at 2.282% while German bund yields fell to 0.525%. Yields move inversely to prices.

In Asia, the Nikkei Stock Average gained 0.2% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 0.8% at a 2-year high.

In commodities, oil prices were up after recent gains on the back of bullish U.S. supply data. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 0.3% at $51.26 a barrel. Gold was up 1%.

Ese Erheriene contributed to this article.

Write to Georgi Kantchev at georgi.kantchev@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 27, 2017 03:39 ET (07:39 GMT)