Asian shares are mostly higher after the Federal Reserve signaled it may begin easing its extraordinary support measures for the economy later this year
The U.S. central bank indicated it may start raising its benchmark interest rate sometime next year, earlier than it envisioned three months ago. It also said it will likely begin slowing the pace of its monthly bond purchases “soon” if the economy keeps improving. The Fed’s been buying the bonds throughout the pandemic to help keep long-term interest rates low.
Markets also were reassured after Evergrande, one of China’s biggest private real estate developers, said it will make a payment due Thursday. That likely eased some concerns about heavily indebted Chinese real estate developers and potential ripple effects of possible defaults.
By early afternoon, Evergrande Group’s Hong Kong-traded shares were up 18%. They have lost about 80% of their value since the beginning of the year.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index gained 0.7% to 24,380.59. The Shanghai Composite index added 0.5% to 3,645.05. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 surged 1% to 7,372.80. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.4% to 3,075.15.
“Asian equity markets are having a good day as perceptions of reducing Evergrande risks lifts sentiment,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary.
At a news conference, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday that the Fed plans to announce as early as November that it will start to taper its monthly bond purchases, should the job market maintain its steady improvement.
The S&P 500 rose 1% to 4,395.64, breaking a four-day losing streak. The benchmark index initially climbed 1.4% after the Fed issued its statement..
The other major indexes also received a bump, but shed some of their gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% to 34,258.32. The blue-chip index briefly surged 520 points higher. The Nasdaq composite gained 1% to 14,896.85.
Smaller stocks did better than the broader market. The Russell 2000 index rose 1.5%, to 2,218.56.
Bond yields mostly rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note wobbled up and down after the Fed’s announcement, but was holding steady at 1.31%. The yield influences interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans.
September has been a rough month for stocks. The S&P 500 is down 2.8%.
Aside from worries over possible Fed policy shifts, investors are jittery over rising cases of COVID-19 due to the highly contagious delta variant and the impact of rising inflation on companies and consumers.
Preliminary manufacturing data for the U.S., Britain and Europe are due out today and could provide insights into the outlook for businesses. Unemployment claims are also due in the U.S.
In other trading Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude oil picked up 14 cents to $72.37 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.74 to $72.23 per barrel on Wednesday.
Brent crude, the international standard, added 15 cents to $75.54 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar rose to 109.81 Japanese yen from 109.76 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1710 from $1.1691.