Asian markets down after Fed Chair Powell spurs Wall Street declines

Asian markets were largely negative on Thursday afternoon, on the back of U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments on inflation after the central bank decided to increase interest rates.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan reversed course once again, losing its earlier gains to trade lower by 0.55 percent in the afternoon, despite the shipping industry advancing by 0.65 percent.

In South Korea, the Kospi lost some of its earlier gains but remained up by 0.38 percent.

Down Under, the ASX 200 remained in negative territory by trading 0.11 percent lower, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia slipping further by 0.21 percent.

In the Greater China region, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was lower by 0.45 percent. The Hong Kong stock exchange saw another highly anticipated listing on Thursday with the public debut of investment bank China Renaissance. The shares, which had an offer price of 31.80 Hong Kong dollars ($4.07) per share, sank to HK$26.85 per share in the morning.

The Shanghai composite fell by 0.39 percent while the Shenzhen composite slid by around 0.67 percent.

In overnight market action stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid by 106.93 points to close at 26,385.28, while the S&P 500 fell by 0.3 percent to 2,905.97. The Nasdaq Composite also saw a decline of 0.2 percent to 7,990.37.

The moves on Wall Street came after Powell told reporters that the Fed did not see inflation surprising to the upside. Powell’s comments came after the U.S. central bank announced that it was increasing interest rates by 25 basis points — its third hike this year.

Powell also discussed the issue of trade tariffs and the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, saying the Fed had heard a “rising chorus of concerns from businesses all over the country.”

“If this, perhaps inadvertently, goes to a place where we have widespread tariffs that remain in place for a long time, a more protectionist world, that’s going to be bad for the United States economy,” he warned.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of international peers, was at 94.263 as of 12:14 p.m. HK/SIN, following a turbulent trading session overnight.

The Japanese yen recovered to trade largely flat against the greenback at 112.71, while the Australian dollar also firmed at $0.7258, as of 12:15 p.m. HK/SIN.

In oil markets, prices faltered a little in the afternoon of Asian trade but largely held on to gains from an earlier rally. The U.S. crude futures contract advanced by 1.16 percent to $72.40 per barrel, while the Brent crude futures contract saw gains of 0.91 percent to $82.08 per barrel.

Source: CNBC