FOMC Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged

Asia stocks ride global momentum, dollar up on June Fed rate hike bets

The statement - agreed unanimously - said: "The committee views the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory".

It was marginally higher at 112.80 yen but more than a third of a percent stronger at $0.7394 per Aussie dollar and 0.2 percent higher against the New Zealand dollar.

The final clincher will be the U.S. jobs data tomorrow night for April - if there is a repeat of the low 98,000 figure for March, then the Fed won't move on rates, but will sit.

The US Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday, downplaying weak first-quarter economic growth while emphasizing the strength of the labour market, signalling it was still on track for two more rate rises this year.

A rising USA currency makes dollar-denominated commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies, potentially subduing demand for gold. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.1 per cent to 2,391.17. The euro declined against the US dollar on Wednesday as the dollar firmed across the board after the Federal Reserve signalled it was still on track for two more interest rate hikes this year.

At 2:18pm BST, the Brent front-month futures contract was down 1.91% or 97 cents to $49.82 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was 2.15% or $1.03 lower at $46.79 per barrel.

According to Investing.com's Fed rate monitor tool, almost 70% of traders expect the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates in June, compared to about only 60% prior to the interest rate decision.

Prices of oil, one of Canada's major exports retreated from earlier highs in choppy trade after USA government data showed a smaller-than-expected decline in domestic crude inventories and weak demand for gasoline, feeding concerns about a supply glut. Levels were little changed in early Asian trading Thursday from late NY levels.

Ahead, Australia reports its trade balance for March, with an A$3.5 billion surplus seen. It hit session high at 0.7475 and made session lows at 0.7418 levels.

Oil prices fell for the fourth day in a row on Thursday, nearing their lowest level since late March after data showed a lower than expected decline in US inventories. The Committee had raised rates by 25 basis points at their previous meeting in March with the expectation of two more rate increases this year. "Base case is for a couple more rate hikes this year - probably in June and September - and for the beginning of balance sheet shrinkage in December". The Nasdaq composite sank 22.82 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,072.55.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3 percent to 5,876.40.

Gold fell to a six-week low on Thursday as the dollar rose to a two-week high on expectations that the US Federal Reserve may raise interest rates as early as June.

In commodities, oil prices slipped on Thursday after a smaller-than-expected decline in United States inventories.

Crude fell below $48 a barrel in NY after USA stockpiles declined less than forecast.

Gold for June delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange shed $18.16 or 1.46%, to $1,231.27 a troy ounce by 13:44 EDT.

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