Asia-Pacific markets set to trade higher as investors react to Fed decision

A currency dealer monitors exchange rates in a trading room at KEB Hana Bank in Seoul on March 13, 2020.

JUNG YEON-JE | AFP via Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets looked set to start off Thursday on a positive note following record gains on Wall Street after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policymaking committee voted to keep short-term borrowing rates near zero.

That move was widely expected. The Fed also ramped up its expectations for economic growth but indicated that there are likely to be no interest rate hikes through 2023.

Australian shares wavered between gains and losses in early trade with the benchmark ASX 200 up 0.4% as most sectors traded lower. The energy and materials subindexes recovered from losses in the previous session to trade up 0.54% and 0.85%, respectively.

Nikkei futures pointed to a slightly cautious open in Japan at the top of the hour.

U.S. stocks rose overnight, pushing as the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its first close above 33,000 while Treasury yields eased from earlier highs.

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the dollar tumbled against a basket of its peers as the dollar index fell from levels near 91.900 to 91.442.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 108.85 per dollar while the Australian dollar rose 0.18% to $0.7808.

Oil prices moved little on Thursday during Asian trading hours. U.S. crude futures were fractionally lower at $64.57.

Energy prices fell overnight on the back of growing worries around fuel demand as well as rising U.S. inventory. In Europe, there are concerns that economic recovery could be delayed after several countries temporarily halted the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccines due to worries over possible side effects.

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