Asian stocks mixed after US Federal Reserve ends stimulus

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Nikkei 225 Index

Last Updated at 20 Feb 2018, 06:45 GMT Nikkei 225 one month chart
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21925.10 -

Asian stocks were mixed after the Federal Reserve said it was ending its quantitative easing stimulus programme because of the stronger US economy.

The US central bank also said it would maintain record-low interest rates for "a considerable time".

However, other Fed comments on the state of the US jobs market were seen as bringing a future rate rise forward.

This caused the US dollar to jump to a three-week high against the yen, spurring a rise in Japan stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 closed up 0.7% at 15,658.20 while the broader Topix ended 0.65% higher at 1,278.90.

In Australia, the ASX 200 rose 0.5% to 5,476.20.

New Zealand's NZX 50 stock index hit a record high of 5,381.71 at one point before closing 0.3% higher at 5,370.18. The country's central bank left interest rates at a near six-year high of 3.5% on Thursday.

However, Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 0.5% at 23,702.04 after an increase in bad loans at some of China's biggest banks weighed on financial stocks.

"While the ending of US QE could contribute more volatility to shares it has largely been anticipated," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital said.

"With the US likely to continue growing and monetary conditions expected to remain easy for some time to come the cyclical bull market in shares likely has further to go."

Investors will now be looking ahead to the US economy's latest growth report out later on Thursday and the Bank of Japan's monetary policy decision on Friday.

Earning reports

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Nintendo is on track to post its first annual profit in four years

Markets have also been factoring in results from some of Asia's biggest companies.

Samsung Electronics, the world's largest smartphone-maker, saw its shares rise 4.5% despite a sharp drop in quarterly profits after it lost market share to cheaper Chinese rivals.

Shares in Nintendo rose more than 7% at first after the gaming company reported better-than-expected profits. However, the shares then fell back to close up 1%.

However, Yahoo Japan and Mitsubishi Motors failed to impress with their results. Both firms saw their shares fall by 5.6% and 3.8% respectively.

South Korea's top internet portal operator Naver fell by more than 3% after its profit results came in slightly short of estimates.

In Singapore, construction firm Yongnam Holdings surged 20% on news it was part of a consortium that won a $1.5bn contract to build a second international airport in Myanmar.

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