Asia-Pacific stocks edge higher; Fed keeps interest rates near zero

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific rose in Thursday morning trade, as investors react to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to keep its easy money policy in place.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.55% in early trade while the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia climbed 0.26%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.27% higher.

Investors watched shares of Apple suppliers in Asia-Pacific after the Cupertino, California-based tech giant reported yet another blowout quarter, with sales 54% surging from last year.

In South Korea, shares of LG Display were up around 0.4% in morning trade.

Markets in Japan are closed on Thursday for a holiday.

Fed keeps easy money policy

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday decided to leave short-term interest rates anchored near zero as it buys at least $120 billion of bonds each month.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the recovery is “uneven and far from complete.” He added that it’s still not time to discuss reducing policy accommodation, including asset purchases.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 closed less than 0.1% lower at 4,183.18 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the trading day 164.55 points lower at 33,820.38. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.28% to close at 14,051.03.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.527 after a drop earlier in the week from above 90.9.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.51 per dollar, as compared with levels above 108.6 against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.78 following its climb yesterday from below $0.776.

Oil prices inched lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.12% to $67.19 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dipped fractionally to $63.83 per barrel.

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