- POSTED: 19 Dec 2013 17:25
- UPDATED: 19 Dec 2013 21:15
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Asian markets were mixed on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve said it would start cutting its stimulus programme next month, in a sign of confidence in the country's economic recovery.
HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve said it would start cutting its stimulus programme next month, in a sign of confidence in the country's economic recovery.
The announcement that the bank will whittle down the scheme by US$10 billion a month to US$75 billion, while keeping interest rates at record lows, sent US shares surging to new records.
Tokyo jumped 1.74 per cent, or 271.42 points, to 15,859.22, Sydney rallied 2.08 per cent, or 106.1 points, to 5,202.2 and Seoul was flat, edging up 1.02 points to 1,975.65.
Shanghai fell 0.95 per cent, or 20.50 points, to 2,127.79 and Hong Kong lost 1.10 per cent, or 255.07 points, to close at 22,888.75 on concerns about China's economic outlook.
Shares in emerging economies - which have been in turmoil at the prospect of an end to the bond-buying - were mostly mostly lower, surrendering earlier gains.
Manila fell 0.64 per cent, or 38.43 points, to end at 5,923.12 while Bangkok lost 0.24 per cent, or 3.23 points, to close at 1,346.63.
Jakarta ended up 0.85 per cent, or 35.70 points, at 4,231.98.
The Fed on Wednesday said it would reduce its bond-buying by a modest US$10 billion to US$75 billion a month from January, citing data indicating the economy is strengthening.
"In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labour market conditions, the committee decided to modestly reduce the pace of its asset purchases," the bank's policy committee said in a statement.
It added that it would likely take "further measured steps at future meetings" if the economy continues to improve.
Policymakers also said they would keep interest rates at record lows "well past the time" that the unemployment rate declines below 6.5 per cent - its previous cut-off point before tightening monetary policy.
While global markets have been falling on expectations of a taper, the relatively small reduction, and the likelihood of interest rates being kept ultra-low, provided a boost.
The Dow soared 1.84 per cent and the S&P 500 jumped 1.66 per cent, both hitting new records, while the Nasdaq rose 1.15 per cent.
Edward Fung, investment advisory head at Kim Eng Securities in Hong Kong, told Dow Jones Newswires: "From how the US market reacted, it seems to me that US$10 billion tapering is nothing to investors compared to the Fed's commitment to hold interest rates at a low level."
Despite a late dip in their markets, the news was also welcomed in developing countries, which have declined in recent months as investors repatriate cash back to the United States.
Bank Indonesia deputy governor Perry Warjiyo said: "The amount of tapering is slightly less than expected. More importantly, the announcement provides more clarity to the direction of Fed monetary policy. That will be positive for financial market stability."
The dollar hit new five-year highs in New York after the announcement. It peaked at 104.36 yen at one point - up from levels below 103 yen earlier in Tokyo - before settling at 104.13 yen. In afternoon Japanese trade on Thursday, it fetched 103.96 yen.
The US unit also edged down against the euro, which bought US$1.3690 on Thursday against US$1.3680 in New York. The euro was also at 142.32 yen compared with 142.56 yen.
The Australian dollar sank to a three-year low of 88.21 US cents at one point from 89.04 cents on Wednesday, but climbed to sit at 88.45 cents in the afternoon.
Against emerging market units, the greenback rose to 1,060.22 South Korean won from 1,052.35, to 62.11 Indian rupees from 61.87 rupees and to 32.35 Thai baht from 32.23 baht.
The greenback generally benefits from tighter US monetary policy as it means fewer dollars flowing around the financial system.
Oil prices were mixed with New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for January delivery, up 28 cents at US$98.08 in afternoon trade. Brent North Sea crude for February eased 36 cents to US$109.27.
Gold fetched US$1,205.05 at 1115 GMT compared with US$1,232.79 late Wednesday.
In other markets, Mumbai closed down 0.73 per cent, or 151.24 points, at 20,708.62; Kuala Lumpur dipped 1.32 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 1,846.18; Taipei added 0.70 per cent, or 58.36 points, to end at 8,407.40; and Wellington rose 0.67 per cent, or 31.18 points, to 4,707.06.