Asian equity markets ended higher on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve lifted its benchmark short-term rate by 25 basis points, as expected, and stuck to its forecast of two more such increases this year and three in 2018, saying the economy is doing well. Investors who had feared much faster US hikes heaved a sigh of relief after the Fed emphasized further rate increases would only be ‘gradual’. A rebound in oil prices and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's victory over anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders in a parliamentary election also supported underlying sentiment. Chinese shares ended higher after the country's central bank lifted interest rates by 10 basis points on both medium-term lending facility loans and reverse repurchase agreements in a bid to avoid downward pressure on the yuan and counter capital outflows. Further, Japanese shares ended marginally higher even as the dollar fell against the yen and the Bank of Japan kept its monetary stimulus unchanged, as widely expected, saying the economy is on a moderate recovery trend.
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