Asian stocks gain on dovish-sounding Fed, dollar on defensive

A pedestrian looks at an electronic board showing the stock market indices of various countries outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Yuya ShinoThomson ReutersA pedestrian looks at an electronic board showing the stock market indices of various countries outside a brokerage in Tokyo

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares gained early on Thursday and the dollar was on the defensive after suffering substantial losses following the U.S. Federal Reserve’s move to reduce the number of interest rate hikes planned for this year.

The potential for more money to continue flowing into commodities and equities, rather being lured by higher U.S. interest rates, boosted crude oil and emerging market stocks.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.9 percent and Australian stocks added 0.8 percent.

Asian equities took cues from Wall Street, where the S&P 500 closed at its highest level this year following the U.S. central bank’s dovish messages. [.N]

The Fed concluded a closely watched two-day policy meeting on Wednesday by leaving interest rates untouched and signaling fewer rate hikes in coming months as the United States continues to face risks from an uncertain global economy.

Global growth concerns, particularly regarding China, have rattled markets through much of the this year.

“In our view, the Fed has become increasingly responsive to changes in financial conditions. We believe this sensitivity is a problem since we see the Fed’s intended policy actions as contributing to the very financial conditions that led to its eventual inaction,” strategists are Barclays wrote.

The dollar index hovered near a one-month low of 95.539 hit overnight after the Fed reduced its expectations for interest rate hikes in 2016 to two from four.

The euro was near $1.1244 , its highest since Mar. 15. The dollar traded at 112.785 yen following a dip to a one-week trough of 112.335.

Commodity-linked currencies rose strongly as commodities such as oil and iron ore soared on news of the Fed’s decision.

The Australian dollar was steady at $0.7543 after jumping 1.2 percent on Wednesday and the Canadian dollar was also firm at C$1.3122 to the dollar after rallying nearly 2 percent to a four-month peak of C$1.3094 overnight.

U.S. crude oil nudged higher early on Thursday to $38.69 a barrel after surging nearly 6 percent overnight.

Major producers firming up plans to meet in Qatar to discuss an output freeze also shored up oil prices.

(Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; Editing by Eric Meijer)

Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2016. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

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