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Talking Points:

  • Asian stocks were mostly lower Thursday
  • Only the Kospi resiste, thanks to tech-sector gains
  • The Australian Dollar gained sharply following extremely strong employment numbers

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Asian stocks were mostly lower Thursday as investors mulled the US Federal Reserve’s final monetary policy decision of the year.

The US central bank raised interest rates as expected, maintained its view that it will probably do so again three times in 2018 and increased its forecast for economic growth. Perhaps counterintuitively this caused a broad-based US Dollar selloff, ostensibly because some investors had hoped for a more hawkish interest rate path. The Fed did not increase its prognosis for inflation. China’s central bank also raised interest rates Thursday, at least those relating to commercial bank lending.

A weaker Dollar rarely cheers Asia’s exporter-heavy stock indexes and certainly didn’t this time. The Nikkei 225 shed 0.28%, with the ASX 200 down 0.2%. Chinese stocks wilted too but South Korea’s Kospi stayed in the green thanks to its tech sector which remains sought after. The Australian Dollar was boosted both by general US Dollar weakness and by its own domestic employment data which shattered forecasts. Some as-expected Chinese numbers made no further impression on the currency.

Gold prices edged up, as did crude oil prices. In the latter’s case falling US inventories reportedly accounted for gains although signs of growing output capped gains.

There is plenty of meat left on Thursday’s economic bones. Monetary policy decisions are coming up from the European Central Bank, Bank of England and the Swiss National Bank. No changes are expected to policy but the central banks’ takes on the future will be closely watched. Various European Purchasing Managers Indexes are also coming up, as are US retail sales and jobless claim figures. The US manufacturing PMI and business inventory data will round out the day.

--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Contact and follow David on Twitter:@DavidCottleFX