(Corrects error to weekly MSCI index percentage change in second paragraph)
Employees of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) work at the bourse in Tokyo, Japan, February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks dipped on Friday as Wall Street took a breather after the Federal Reserve kept intact its plans to continue raising interest rates at a gradual pace, with a fourth hike for this year expected next month.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.06 percent. The index was headed for a loss of 1 percent during the week, during which it managed to rise to a one-month high on Thursday.
Australian stocks were flat, South Korea’s KOSPI edged up 0.2 percent and Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.2 percent.
The Fed held interest rates steady on Thursday but remained on track to keep gradually tightening borrowing costs, as it pointed to a healthy economy that was marred only by a dip in the growth of business investment.
The central bank has hiked U.S. interest rates three times this year and is widely expected to do so again next month.
The S&P 500 lost 0.25 percent and the Nasdaq shed 0.53 percent on Thursday after the Fed’s statement, and energy stocks were the biggest drag on the S&P as U.S. crude oil prices fell.
With the U.S. midterm congressional elections out of the way, Wall Street shares had spiked midweek on a relief rally.
“The Fed meeting outcome and its statement did not produce major surprises, but it managed to reinforce views that a rate hike is coming in December and this tempered equities,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management in Tokyo.
“The Fed statement came after a steep surge in equities and gave the markets an opportunity to sell into the rally.”
In currencies, with Treasury yields pushing up, the dollar stood tall after advancing against its peers overnight, buoyed by Fed’s largely upbeat economic outlook and its intent to keep tightening monetary policy.
The dollar traded at 113.995 yen after brushing a five-week high of 114.09 overnight.
The euro was steady at $1.1365 having shed 0.55 percent the previous day.
Thanks to the greenback’s gains against the euro and yen, the dollar index against a basket of six major currencies gained 0.75 percent on Thursday.
After the Fed statement, the two-year Treasury yield rose to 2.977 percent, the highest in 10-1/2 years.
Crude oil prices struggled near eight-month lows as investors focused on swelling global crude supply, which is increasing more quickly than many had expected.
The market took stock of record U.S. crude production and signals from Iraq, Abu Dhabi and Indonesia that output will grow more quickly than expected in 2019.
U.S. crude futures were little changed at $60.69 per barrel after falling to $60.67 the previous day, the lowest since March 14.
Editing by Shri Navaratnam