Asia shares lackluster after Fed hints at December rate hike

FILE - This Monday, July 6, 2015, file photo, shows a sign for Wall Street carved into the side of a building, in New York. Japanese stocks rose Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, as investors bet on another shot of stimulus from the country's central bank while other global benchmarks moved sideways ahead of U.S. growth figures and the Fed's latest policy decision. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
FILE - This Monday, July 6, 2015, file photo, shows a sign for Wall Street carved into the side of a building, in New York. Japanese stocks rose Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, as investors bet on another shot of stimulus from the country's central bank while other global benchmarks moved sideways ahead of U.S. growth figures and the Fed's latest policy decision. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were lackluster Thursday after Federal Reserve policymakers left interest rates unchanged at a record low but indicated they could raise the benchmark rate at their December meeting if the U.S. economy keeps improving.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.1 percent to 18,885.84 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.4 percent to 22,861.85. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.9 percent to 5,290.00 and South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.4 percent to 2,035.15. China’s Shanghai Composite Index was little changed at 3,375.79. Shares in Southeast Asia were lower.

FEDERAL RESERVE: In its latest statement, the Fed eliminated language expressing concern about the global economy and Fed Chair Janet Yellen has previsly said she wants to start raising rates this year. The Fed cut its benchmark interest rate to almost zero in late 2008 to stimulate the economy during the Great Recession. Low interest rates have been a boon for stock markets for several years.

THE QUOTE: “It is clear from this meeting that the default plan for the Fed is to raise rates by end of the year,” Bernard Aw of IG said in a research note. “Even though there are compelling reasons for the Fed to hold off policy tightening this year, it does looks like they are prepared to go through with it.”

WALL STREET: After yo-yoing during the day, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 198.09 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,779.52. The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 24.46 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,090.35. The Nasdaq composite picked up 65.55 points, or 1.3 percent, to 5,095.69.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 120.75 yen from 121.07 yen in the previous trading session. The euro rose to $1.0933 from $1.0924. The dollar climbed against other currencies on Wednesday as traders anticipated that higher rates were on the way. Central banks in Europe and Japan are expected to continue their own stimulus programs, keeping their rates near zero.

ENERGY: Oil prices fell back after soaring when Pemex, the national oil company of Mexico, said it received permission to swap crude oil with the U.S., possibly ending the U.S. ban on exporting crude. U.S. crude slipped 12 cents to $45.83 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It climbed $2.74 to $45.94 a barrel in New York on Wednesday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 13 cents to $48.92 in London. It rose $2.24, or 4.8 percent, to $49.05 on Wednesday.

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