Fed Rate Hike Weighs on Asia

Asian markets closed slightly lower in their first session following the Federal Reserve's Wednesday announcement that it raised U.S. interest rates.

The Nikkei 225 loosed 63.62 points, or 0.3%, to 22,694.45. Automakers were mostly lower, as were most blue-chip tech and banking names. Energy-related names were mostly higher.

Against the yen, the U.S. dollar clawed back some gains to trade at 112.72 after falling as low as 112.45 in the previous session.

Toyota and Panasonic on Wednesday announced an agreement to begin a study to advance the development of automotive batteries. The move comes as other Japanese automakers, such as Nissan and Honda, have warmed to the prospects of electric vehicles. Toyota closed higher by 0.2%, while Panasonic rose 2.4%

Shares of Rakuten finished down 4.9% after the e-commerce company on Thursday said it would be applying to enter the mobile network operator sector. Mobile services were slated to begin in 2019, Rakuten said in a statement, adding that it aims to target a minimum of 15 million subscribes. Other mobile carriers also traded lower, with SoftBank Group falling 2.3% and NTT Docomo 2.3% lower.

The Hang Seng Index let go of 55.72 points, or 0.2%, to 29,166.38, with gains in property names offset by losses in consumer stocks.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced Thursday it had raised its base rate by 25 bps to 1.75%, matching the Fed's decision to raise the fed funds rate by the same amount.

In Korea, so-called "THAAD-related stocks" that had climbed for a second straight session gave up some of their earlier gains. Those stocks include retailers and consumer names that tend to get hit when tensions flare up between China and South Korea over Seoul's deployment of the THAAD missile defense system. Lotte Shopping edged down 0.5%, although LG Household jumped 1.6% by the end of the session.

Blue-chip tech names and automakers were also lower. Samsung Electronics finished 0.5% lower and Hyundai Motor slipped 0.7%

Those moves came as South Korean President Moon Jae-in continued with his four-day visit to China. Business executives from major Korean corporations, including Hyundai and LG, are also taking part in the bilateral meeting.

In Australia, gains were seen in resource stocks, while real estate investment trusts and utilities slid. Major miners were mixed, with BHP inching higher by 0.04%. Heavily-weighted bank stocks were little changed.

The Aussie dollar traded at $0.7665 U.S., touching its highest levels in more than a month earlier in the day.

Australian department store chain Myer on Thursday indicated its first-half for the 2018 financial year results would be "materially below" the previous corresponding period. The company blamed a decline in foot traffic and industry discounting for the expected fall in profit. Myer shares tumbled 9.7% by the end of the day.


Mainland markets ended a touch softer after the People's Bank of China on Thursday raised both the reverse repo rate and medium-term lending facility rate by five basis points.

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 slid 23.94 points, or 0.6%, to 4,026.15. Financial stocks were among the worst-performing sectors.

Markets also digested a barrage of data released in the morning. Fixed-asset investment growth came in in line with expectations at 7.2%.

Industrial output increased 6.1%in November, above a forecast of 6% in an economists’ poll. Retail sales, meanwhile, rose 10.2% last month compared to one year ago, meeting expectations.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index docked 11.07 points, or 0.5%, to 2,469.48

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index gained 67.31 points, or 0.6%, to 10,538.01

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index slumped 32.99 points, or 1%, to 3,435.78

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 added 39.17 points, or 0.5%, to 8,323.75

In Australia, the ASX 200 ditched 10.57 points, or 0.2%, to 6,011.26