Asian Shares Slide On Fed Vow To Quell Inflation

Asian stocks declined on Thursday after U.S. Federal Reserve officials announced another big rate hike and reiterated their support for further interest rate hikes to curb rampant inflation.

The U.S. central bank now sees its benchmark interest rate reaching 4.4 percent by end of 2022 and rising even further in 2023 despite growing headwinds to economic growth and the labor market.

Fears over China’s slowdown and Russia’s warning to escalate the war in Ukraine also spooked markets.

The dollar index rose against a basket of currencies on elevated yields and gold stayed under pressure amid the Fed’s hawkish outlook on rates, while oil extended overnight losses in choppy trading.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.3 percent to 3,108.91 on lingering concerns over the economic impact of China’s zero-COVID policy.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.6 percent to 18,147.95 as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority raised its base rate charged through the overnight discount window by three-quarters of a percentage point to 3.5 percent.

Japanese shares hit over two-month closing lows even as the Bank of Japan held interest rates at ultra-low levels and maintained its dovish outlook to support economic growth.

At his post-meeting press conference, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said that recent rapid decrease by the yen is driven in part by speculative moves, and the central bank will watch the impact market moves have on the economy and prices.

The Nikkei 225 Index closed 0.6 percent lower at 27,153.83 after having dipped below the 27,000-mark for the first time since July 19 earlier. The broader Topix settled 0.2 percent lower at 1,916.12 ahead of Friday’s national holiday.

Seoul stocks ended lower, though initial losses were trimmed on bargain hunting. The Kospi ended down 0.6 percent at 2,332.31 as the won fell through the 1,400 mark for the first time since March 20, 2009.

Semiconductors and other tech issues led losses. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics dropped 1.6 percent to close at a two-year low of 54,400 won, while no. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix plummeted 2.3 percent. Naver and Kakao lost 3-4 percent.

Australian markets were closed for National Mourning Day. Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P NZX-50 Index edged up 0.2 percent to 11,518.32, with heavyweights Meridian Energy and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare pacing the gains.

Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite Index rose 0.4 percent. The country’s central bank today raised the 7-day reverse repurchase rate by 25 basis points to 4.25 percent, as widely expected.

U.S. stocks fluctuated before eventually ending sharply lower overnight as the Fed delivered a widely expected 75 basis point rate hike and signaled further aggressive rate hikes for the remainder of the year.

The Dow shed 1.7 percent to hit a three-month closing low, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gave up 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectivel, to reach over two-month closing lows.

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