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Asia markets down after Fed Chair Powell spurs Wall Street declines

Key Points
  • Shares of investment bank China Renaissance, which made its much anticipated public debut today, sank by more than 20 percent in the afternoon.
  • On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced its decision to hike interest rates by 25 basis points, its third such hike for 2018.
  • Following the announcement, Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters that the U.S. central bank did not see inflation surprising to the upside.
  • Powell also addressed concerns around tariffs and the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, saying the Fed has heard a "rising chorus of concerns" coming from businesses in the U.S.

Asia markets were largely negative on Thursday, on the back of U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's comments on inflation after the central bank decided to increase interest rates.

The in Japan ended the trading day lower by 0.99 percent at 23,796.74, with most sectors closing lower.

Down Under, the ASX 200 slipped by 0.18 percent to close at 6,181.2, with shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia lower by 0.14 percent.

In the Greater China region, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was lower by 0.3 percent as of 3:15 p.m. HK/SIN. The Hong Kong stock exchange saw another highly anticipated listing on Thursday with the public debut of investment bank China Renaissance. The shares, which had an offer price of 31.80 Hong Kong dollars ($4.07) per share, remained lower at HK$26.45 per share in the afternoon.

The Shanghai composite fell by 0.54 percent to close at 2,791.78 while the Shenzhen composite slid by 1.26 percent to 1,429.61.

In South Korea, the Kospi bucked the overall trend to close higher by 0.7 percent at 2,355.43, with shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics advancing by 0.21 percent.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Stateside news

In overnight market action stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid by 106.93 points to close at 26,385.28, while the fell by 0.3 percent to 2,905.97. The Nasdaq Composite also saw a decline of 0.2 percent to 7,990.37.

The moves on Wall Street came after Powell told reporters that the Fed did not see inflation surprising to the upside. Powell's comments came after the U.S. central bank announced that it was increasing interest rates by 25 basis points — its third hike this year.

Powell also discussed the issue of trade tariffs and the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, saying the Fed had heard a "rising chorus of concerns from businesses all over the country. "

"If this, perhaps inadvertently, goes to a place where we have widespread tariffs that remain in place for a long time, a more protectionist world, that's going to be bad for the United States economy," he warned.

Foreign exchange and oil markets

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of international peers, was at 94.566 as of 3:20 p.m. HK/SIN, following a turbulent trading session overnight.

The Japanese yen saw gains of 0.12 percent against the greenback at 112.59, while the Australian dollar weakened by 0.47 percent at $0.7222, as of 3:22 p.m. HK/SIN.

In oil markets, prices largely held on to gains from an earlier rally. As of 3:23 p.m. HK/SIN, the U.S. crude futures contract advanced by 1.17 percent to $72.41 per barrel, while the Brent crude futures contract saw gains of 1.04 percent to $82.19 per barrel.