Asian stocks were mixed on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate intact and steered clear of suggesting that a cut was possible this year. Trading was light with markets in Japan and mainland China closed.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.6% to 29,882.20 while Australia’s S&P ASX 200 lost 0.7% to 6,331.10. The Kospi in South Korea was 0.4% higher at 2,212.75. Stocks rose in Taiwan but fell in Singapore and Indonesia.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rate — which determines the cost of borrowing for individuals and businesses — in a range of 2.25% to 2.5% as expected.
Still, some traders had hoped the Fed would signal a rate cut to lift persistently low inflation to its 2% target rate. The Fed’s preferred 12-month inflation barometer is running at about 1.5%.
Chairman Jerome Powell steered clear of this at a news conference. “The committee is comfortable with our current policy stance,” he said.
Powell added that current inflation readings may be transitory and not fully indicative of real-world price increases.
“Equity markets were looking for so much more from the Fed and were shocked when Chair Powell said the Fed did not see a convincing case to move rates in either direction,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.
Over on Wall Street, stocks closed lower after climbing earlier in the day on strong earnings reports.
The broad S&P 500 index retreated 0.8% to 2,923.73 on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.6% to 26,430.14 and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.6% to 8,049.64. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks shed 0.9% to 1,576.38.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 30 cents to $63.30 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 31 cents to settle at $63.60 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 35 cents to $71.83 per barrel. It added 12 cents to close at $72.18 per barrel in the previous session.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.55 Japanese yen from 111.38 yen late Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1200 from $1.1198.