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Asia – Pacific Stocks Rise to Follow Wall Street on Fed Statement

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly higher on Thursday as investors reacted to the latest announcements from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Mainland Chinese stocks closed higher, with the Shanghai composite jumping 1.13% to 3,404.87 and the Shenzhen component advancing 1.009% to 13,889.87. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose about 0.4%, as of its final hour of trading.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.18% to close at 26,806.67 while the Topix index ended its trading day 0.32% higher at 1,792.58. South Korea’s Kospi, however, closed slightly lower at 2,770.43.

Shares in Australia jumped, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 1.16% on the day to 6,756.70.

Australia’s unemployment rate in November was at 6.8%, according to seasonally adjusted estimates released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday. That compared against October’s 7% unemployment rate. Economists polled by Reuters had expected the unemployment rate in November to stay at 7%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.47%.

The Fed said it will buy at least $120 billion of bonds each month “until substantial further progress has been made toward the Committee’s maximum employment and price stability goals,” according to its post-meeting statement. The U.S. central bank also kept benchmark interest rates near zero, as expected, following the conclusion of its two-day meeting.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell also said on Wednesday that stock prices are not necessarily highly priced given how low interest rates are.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 closed 0.2% higher at 3,701.17. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.5% to end its trading day at 12,658.19, seeing intraday and closing all-time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, on the other hand, shed 44.77 points to close at 30,154.54.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.23% to $51.71 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 1.34% to $48.46 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 89.952 following levels above 90.6 seen earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.16 per dollar, having strengthened from levels above 104 against the greenback seen earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7615, above levels below $0.75 seen last week.