Asian stocks led higher by Japan as dollar extends recovery


The dollar inched higher on Wednesday as the near-term focus shifted to the minutes of the Federal Reserve´s last policy meeting for hints on the future pace of USA monetary tightening.

Noting a rise in business optimism, an increase in business investment, a strengthening labor market and an accelerating pace of economic growth, Quarles said the underlying fundamentals of the US economy are strong.

The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates next month, the first of what many at the Fed believe should be three rate hikes this year.

X That initially eased fears that the Fed might be more aggressive in 2018, but not for long.

Since the January meeting United States stocks have been volatile, although Fed officials have played down the impact of a recent sell-off given how high the stock market has risen.

The S&P 500 is up 27.72 points, or 1 percent.

According to the minutes, the Federal Reserve officials in January had revised their economic projections upwards following their December meeting, noting increased consumer spending and confidence.

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Shares of Glencore climbed after the mining and commodities trading company reported results it called its "strongest on record" and boosted its dividend payout to investors to US$2.9 billion as it benefitted from higher commodity prices and cost cuts.

The dollar extended an overnight surge and gained 0.45 percent to 107.800 yen.

The U.S. two-year rate was at 2.26 percent.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC rose 0.85 percent to 7,295.86 and the S&P 500 .SPX was up 0.65 percent at 2,733.83.

Although inflation continues to run below the Fed's 2 percent target despite unemployment at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent, he said, "A deviation from our target of a few tenths of 1 percentage point, especially one I expect to fade, does not cause me great concern".

Platinum was about unchanged at $1,000/oz while palladium was down 0.5% to $1,018/oz.

Sticking closely to a view he laid out earlier this year, Harker said he expects the USA economy to grow 2.5 percent this year before slowing to 2-percent growth next year and to below 2 percent in 2020.

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The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of peers, was up 0.2 per cent.

Broadcom Corp lowered its takeover offer for chipmaker Qualcomm to account for the latter's increased offer for NXP Semiconductors NV.Qualcomm shares fell 1.2 percent.

At least one member of the Federal Reserve Board, Philly Fed President Patrick Harker, is walking back these rate-hike expectations. Brent crude, used to price global oils, rose 17 cents to close at $65.42 per barrel in London.

WELLINGTON: The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 1.26 per cent, to 8,200.27.

Gold rose 90 cents to $1,332.10 an ounce.

The stronger dollar weighed on commodities, with Brent crude futures losing 0.8 percent to $64.73 per barrel and USA crude oil futures slipping 1 percent to $61.15.

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