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Asian Markets Gain, Fed Maintains Interest Rate Near Zero

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

South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.23% in afternoon trade while the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia climbed 0.23%.

asian markets
ASX 200 Index Performance Chart

Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed, with the Shanghai composite up 0.17% and the Shenzhen component declined by 0.12%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.62%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.48%.

Markets in Japan were closed on Thursday for a holiday.

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 dropped 3.05%, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s stock in Taiwan shed 0.17%. In Hong Kong, shares of AAC Tech edged 0.34% higher.

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.

Addressing Congress on Wednesday night to mark his first 100 days as president, Joe Biden said he welcomed competition from China, though American interests will be defended “across the board.” It comes as relations between Washington and Beijing remain frosty over issues ranging from trade to China’s alleged human rights abuses.

Asian Markets Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.578 after a drop earlier in the week from above 90.9.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.63 per dollar, as compared with levels above 108.6 against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7786 following its climb yesterday from below $0.776.

Oil prices rose in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.33% to $67.49 per barrel. U.S. crude futures climbed 0.27% to $64.03 per barrel.