TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets were muted Friday on renewed expectations for a Fed rate hike this year while the New Zealand dollar jumped on prospects of increased dairy exports after China abolished its one-child policy.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 was up 0.2 percent to 18,974.90 after the Bank of Japan left its super-easy monetary policy unchanged. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.2 percent at 22,775.25 while South Korea's Kospi was little changed at 2,034.74. China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.1 percent to 3,391.41. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2 percent to 5,257.30. Stock benchmarks rose in Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand and dropped in the Philippines and Indonesia.
KIWI FLIES: The New Zealand dollar, known as the Kiwi after the country's flightless native bird, surged in the wake of China's announcement it would allow all couples to have two children, abolishing its unpopular one-child policy. New Zealand is a major dairy exporter and its milk powder and baby formula industry is likely to benefit from a baby boomlet in China. The kiwi dollar jumped to $0.6758 from $0.6699 the day before.
U.S. FACTORS: Investors increasingly believe the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise its benchmark interest rate from a record low in December. Data on Thursday showed the U.S. economy cooled during the third quarter but that was largely due to transitory changes in inventory levels and the underlying picture is in line with the Fed's view of a moderately strong economy. Super low interest rates have been a boon for stock markets for several years.
THE QUOTE: The third quarter growth figure "is unlikely to be an excuse for the Fed to hold off a rate hike," said Bernard Aw, market strategist at IG in Singapore said in a commentary. "As long as the jobs data resumes a strong upward trajectory, shrugging off the soft patch in August and September, alongside improvement in the inflation numbers, the case for a December liftoff remains alive."
WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 23.72 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,755.80 on Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 dipped 0.94 point to 2,089.41. The Nasdaq composite sank 21.42 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,074.27.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 17 cents to $45.89 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 12 cents to $46.06 a barrel in New York on Thursday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost 9 cents to $48.71 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 120.92 yen from 120.95 yen on Thursday. The euro fell to $1.0969 from $1.0990.
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