Asian stocks were mostly higher on Tuesday after a Federal Reserve board member said she was in no hurry to raise interest rates, reassuring investors who were worried that the rate hike could pull share prices lower.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.2 percent to 16,704.94 and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.6 percent to 2,002.42. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.8 percent to 23,482.47 while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.1 percent to 5,222.00. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.2 percent and markets in Southeast Asia were mostly lower.
US RATE WATCH: On Tuesday, Lael Brainard, an influential Fed policymaker, suggested in a speech that the risk that higher rates might derail growth was greater than the risk that lower rates might ignite inflation. That was seen as a sign the Fed will refrain from raising rates at a policy-setting meeting next week. Low rates have fueled a steady rise in stock prices as investors put their money in high-risks stocks instead of low-interest savings accounts or bonds.
ANALYST’S COMMENT: ”She highlighted global challenges such as muted inflation and global uncertainties and particular concerns for the US economy,” said Bernard Aw, a market strategist at IG in Singapore. ”It’s safe to assume that investors believe that September is not going to be the month where the Fed pulls the trigger.”
WALL STREET: US stocks surged Monday after Brainard’s speech. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 239.62 points, or 1.3 percent, to 18,325.07. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 31.23 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,159.04. The Nasdaq composite surged 85.98 points, or 1.7 percent, to 5,211.89
OIL: Benchmark US crude fell 45 cents to $45.85 per barrel in New York. The contract added 41 cents on Monday. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil trading, lost 40 cents to $47.92 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 101.98 yen from 101.89 yen while the euro slipped to $1.1233 from $1.1238.