Asia Stocks Slip After Fed Signals More Rate Hikes in Store

Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Most Asian stock markets slipped Thursday after a lackluster day on Wall Street as the Fed used its latest assessment of the U.S. economy to signal that more interest rate increases are coming.

South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8 percent to 2,236.29 while other major benchmarks across Asia fell, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng losing 0.4 percent to 24,593.79 and the Shanghai Composite on mainland China dipping 0.1 percent to 3,132.67. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3 percent to 5,873.20. Singapore’s benchmark fell but indexes in other Southeast Asian countries and Taiwan rose. Japan’s market remained closed for a holiday.

U.S. interest rates remained unchanged after the latest policy meeting by the Federal Reserve, which also said it expects the U.S. economy, the world’s biggest, to start growing faster. The remarks by the Federal Open Market Committee contained no surprises and provided further support for another widely expected Fed interest rate rise, which could come in June. The Fed has signaled it plans to continue gradually raising interest rates that have been at ultra-low levels for years, gently removing the stimulus that has helped fuel an extended stock rally.

“The FOMC meeting provided few surprises and that’s how the Federal Reserve likes things,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne. “They are part of the reasoning why the world [likes] selling volatility.”

HSBC posted a 12 percent increase in quarterly pretax profits as improved trading and rising interest rates helped support revenue at the London-based global bank. The figures are adjusted for one-off items. Net profit, however, slipped 22 percent to $2.7 billion.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.1 percent to 2,388.13. The Dow Jones industrial average rose a fraction to 20,957.90. The Nasdaq composite sank 0.4 percent to 6,072.55.

U.S. benchmark crude futures shed 14 cents to $47.68 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 16 cents to settle at $47.82 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 14 cents to $50.65 a barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 112.80 yen from 112.64 yen in late trading Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.0893 from $1.0887.