Asia Rises with U.S. Rates on Hold

Shares in Asia mostly rose on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it was keeping interest rates on hold, and indicated that no more rate hikes would be coming in 2019.

Markets in Japan were closed for holiday. The Japanese yen traded at 110.40 against the U.S. dollar, after seeing lows above 111.6 in the previous session.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index dropped 249.41 points, or 0.9%, to 29,071.56

Korean markets picked up steam, as shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics saw its shares surge 4.1%, and chipmaker SK Hynix saw their stocks gain 7.7%, following an overnight earnings beat by Micron.

Australian markets squeezed higher, as the heavily weighted financial subindex declined 0.3% with shares of Australia's so-called Big Four banks mixed on the day. National Australia Bank slipped 0.4% and Westpac was marginally lower, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.4% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia advanced 0.5%

The moves Down Under came after a report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the country's jobless rate at a near eight-year low in February

With investors initially anticipating a possible rate cut by the Australian central bank, Thursday's data release moderated those expectations and sent the Australian dollar soaring to a high of $0.7167 U.S. after an earlier low of $0.7111. It last traded at $0.7153 U.S.

The Fed announced Wednesday that it would hold steady on interest rates and indicated that no more hikes would be coming this year. That was a reversal from its stance three months ago, when the central bank projected two interest rate hikes for 2019.

In other markets

The CSI 300 index edged higher, 1.45 points, to 3,836.89

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index recovered 5.99 points, or 0.2%, to 3,213.65

Korea’s Kospi Index recouped 7.78 points, or 0.4%, to 2,184.88

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index gained 57.99 points, or 0.6%, to 10,609.55

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 moved higher 25.61 points, or 0.3%, to 9,461.31

In Australia, the ASX 200 eked higher 1.82 points to 6,167.17