HONG KONG (AP) — Most Asian shares sank Thursday as investors digested the latest Fed minutes while geopolitical concerns overshadowed sentiment after President Donald Trump struck a defiant tone on the Middle East conflict.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index dipped 0.1 percent to 21,660.28 while the Kospi in South Korea added 0.2 percent to 2,450.02. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.6 percent to 30,707.03 and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China gave up early gains, sliding 0.8 percent to 3,182.49. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.3 percent to 5,814.00. Indexes in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia also lost ground but shares in Thailand and the Philippines rose.
FED MINUTES: At its most recent meeting in March, Federal Reserve policymakers said they felt the U.S. central bank might have to raise interest rates faster than expected to keep up with quickening economic growth and rising inflation that’s coming close their 2 percent target, according to the latest minutes. Some officials also thought they might have to focus on slowing the economy to keep inflation under control.
TRUMP TALK: In a tweet, Trump suggested that he wanted to retaliate against Russia after the recent suspected chemical attack in Syria. Separately, Saudi Arabia said it intercepted missiles fired by rebels in Yemen as well as drones that targeted an oil facility. The prospect of escalating conflict in the Middle East has sparked fears about tighter oil supplies, driving crude prices to their highest since December 2014.
MARKET INSIGHT: “With the war drums quietly beating in the White House, markets tend to ignore the ‘run of the mill’ type issues like FOMC minutes,” Stephen Innes, head of Asian trading at OANDA, said in a commentary, referring to the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee.
WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index fell 0.6 percent to 2,642.19 after Tuesday’s 1.7 percent surge. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 0.9 percent to 24,189.45. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.4 percent to 7,069.03.
ENERGY: Oil futures were at their highest in more than three years. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 33 cents to .15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract climbed 2 percent to settle at .82 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 17 cents to .23 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 106.86 yen from 106.79 yen in late trading Wednesday. The euro edged i( to .2371 from .2369.