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Asian markets slip as Fed stays quiet on stimulus

April 4, 2012

HONG KONG: Asian markets slipped today after minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting dealt a blow to hopes it will launch any new stimulus measures in the near term.

Regional shares followed Wall Street lower on disappointment that markets will not be greased with any more cash as the Fed said it would play a wait-and-see game.

Tokyo tumbled 2.29%, or 230.40 points, to 9,819.99, Seoul was 1.50%, or 30.67 points, off at 2,018.61 and Sydney closed flat, edging down 3.1 points to 4,333.9.

Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei are closed for public holidays.

The Federal Open Market Committee’s mid-March meeting minutes showed bankers considered improved employment, housing and financial market data as just “positive, on balance”.

The committee made limited mention of monetary easing.

However, it said some members “indicated that the initiation of additional stimulus could become necessary if the economy lost momentum or if inflation seemed likely to remain below its mandate-consistent rate of two percent”.

The news surprised many Fed watchers and hit Wall Street, with the Dow falling 0.49%, the Nasdaq down 0.20% and the S&P 500 off 0.40%.

“The decline in US stocks suggests that market participants may have expected the Fed to do more,” said Eric Viloria, senior currency strategist atForex.com in a note.

“However, if the economy continues to firm as anticipated, the dip in equities may be seen as buying opportunities if the recovery becomes self-sustaining,” he added, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

The Fed minutes boosted the dollar against the yen as they suggest there will be no more cash flooding the markets soon.

The greenback bought 82.62 yen in afternoon Asian trade, down from 82.78 yen in New York late Tuesday – but well up from the 81.76 yen in Asia yesterday.

The euro bought US$1.3200 and 109.05 yen compared with US$1.3233 and 109.55 yen in New York.

Eurozone fears resurfaced after Spanish unemployment hit a new high in March while other data showed the nation’s public debt will soar more than 10 percentage points this year to 79.8 percent of gross domestic product.

The news stoked fears that another crisis similar to that of Greece was brewing in the eurozone.

On oil markets New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in May, shed 43 US cents to US$103.58 per barrel. Brent North Sea crude for May settlement was down 20 US cents at US$124.66 in the afternoon.

Gold was at US$1,643.75 an ounce at 0600 GMT, compared with US$1,676.62 late yesterday.



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