26th September 2018 - Asian markets rose today as traders awaited a third interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve for this year.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose less than 0.1 percent to 23,953.98. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, which reopened after a holiday, jumped 1.5 percent to 27,914.26. The Shanghai Composite Index rallied 1.4 percent to 2,818.88. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 6,192.30. Shares fell in Taiwan but rose in Singapore and Indonesia. Markets were closed in South Korea for a national holiday.

U.S. benchmarks finished mixed yesterday as rising interest rates hurt stocks that pay big dividends. Higher oil prices pulled transportation and shipping companies lower. The S&P 500 index lost 0.1 percent to 2,915.56, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.3 percent to 26,492.21.

The Nasdaq composite was 0.2 percent higher at 8,007.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 0.2 percent to 1,708.80.

Earlier today, the Federal Reserve is expected raise its benchmark interest rate to between 2-2.25 percent in its ninth increase since late 2015. Another increase is expected later this year, with more to come in 2019. Traders will also be keeping an eye on the Fed’s economic projections and Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference afterward.

Japanese trader celebrates a good day at the office

A Japanese trader celebrates a good day at the office

 

Stocks usually do well when the Fed starts to raise interest rates because the higher rates reflect solid economic growth, which is associated with strong company profits. But as the rate increases continue, in line with the Fed’s goal of keeping inflation in check, the effect on stocks can become negative as economic growth slows.

“The market has already priced in a 25 basis points lift to the Fed funds rate. The economic projections and the speech by Chair Fed Powell will be dissected for insights into what the central bank sees in 2019,” Alfonso Esparza of OANDA said in a commentary.

Oil futures fell after news that a weekend meeting of OPEC and its allies ended without an increase in production boosted prices. Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 11 cents to $72.17 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 0.3 percent on Tuesday to close at $72.28.

Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 4 cents to $81.22 per barrel. It settled at $81.26 after climbing to $81.87 per barrel in London, its highest price since November 2014.

The dollar eased to 112.91 yen from 112.97 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1764 from $1.1766.