Most of the Asian equity benchmarks are trading up in the early deals on Friday despite the negative cues from Wall Street and lower crude oil prices overnight. Investors continued to remain optimistic after the US Federal Reserve maintained its interest rate forecast for this year. While the Fed raised rates by a quarter point as widely expected on Wednesday, the central bank's projections called for only two more rate hikes this year. The unchanged outlook for rate hikes this year offset concerns that the Fed intends to accelerate the pace of rate increases. Though, Japan's Nikkei share average edged down as the yen held steady against the dollar after the US Federal Reserve signalled fewer interest rate hikes than some investors had expected. Among the other Asian markets, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are all modesty higher. Bucking the trend, Shanghai is edging lower.
Hang Seng strengthened 66.61 points or 0.27% to 24,354.89, FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI increased 10.80 points or 0.62% to 1,747.94, KOSPI Index gained 7.57 points or 0.35% to 2,157.65, Taiwan Weighted added 32.14 points or 0.33% to 9,869.97, Jakarta Composite spurt 19.96 points or 0.36% to 5,538.20 and Straits Times was up by 7.14 points or 0.23% to 3,170.66.
On the flip side, Nikkei 225 dropped 64.56 points or 0.33% to 19,525.58, and Shanghai Composite was down by 7.78 points or 0.24% to 3,261.16.