Asian shares firm as Fed tempers aggressive rate hike bets
Updated 16:00, 05-May-2022
The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited, August 14, 2021. /CFP

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited, August 14, 2021. /CFP

Asian shares tracked Wall Street gains on Thursday after the U.S. central bank raised interest rates by 50 basis points but sounded a less hawkish tone than some had feared, lifting investor sentiment and sending the dollar lower.

Crude prices, meanwhile, shot up as the European Union spelled out some of the details of its plan to ban the use of Russian oil, heightening concerns about supply.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.93 percent, although trading was thin with Japanese and Korean markets closed for public holidays.

Marcella Chow, Hong Kong-based global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said the Federal Reserve's 50-basis point hike was in line with expectations, hence removing some investor concerns about a more aggressive move.

"Given the Asian market has more certainty right now, I think this will probably also cause the market to rally a bit as well," she told Reuters.

Asia's gains followed a U.S. rally overnight where the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.81 percent, the S&P 500 gained 2.99 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 3.19 percent.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 0.77 percent in early trading, with the tech sector index adding 1.43 percent.

However, China's benchmark CSI300 opened 0.16 percent lower as mainland markets resumed trade after the Labor Day holiday.

The Fed's half a percentage point rate increase was the biggest in 22 years. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said policymakers were ready to approve similar-sized rate hikes at upcoming policy meetings in June and July.

Powell added the Fed was not "actively considering" a 75 basis-point rate hike, tempering some market expectations for an aggressive tightening path.

That sent the dollar lower, where it stayed in early Asia.

The dollar index , which measures the greenback against six peers, was at 102.49, having been as firm as 103.63 on Wednesday.

(With input from Reuters)

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