SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific stocks struggled for direction in Thursday morning trade after U.S. Federal Reserve meeting minutes showed officials stressing the need to raise interest rates swiftly and potentially more than markets anticipated.
The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia edged 0.39% lower.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.11% lower.
U.S. Fed minutes released Wednesday showed officials are prepared to move ahead with several 50 basis point interest rate hikes. The Federal Open Market Committee also said policy may have to move away from “neutral” and into “restrictive” territory.
Shares on Wall Street rose following the release of the Fed minutes, with the S&P 500 climbing around 0.95% to 3,978.73. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 191.66 points, or 0.6%, to 32,120.28. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.51% to 11,434.74.
“The FOMC Minutes revealed a broad consensus for the need to tighten the policy rate by 50bps over the next couple of meetings,” National Australia Bank’s Rodrigo Catril wrote in a Thursday note.
“The market found some relief on the notion that the Minutes revealed a broad consensus for 50bps hikes in June and July and the possibility for a pause later in the year,” Catril said.
Currencies and oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 101.97 following a recent slip from levels above 102.2.
The Japanese yen traded at 127.35 per dollar, weaker as compared with levels below 126.9 seen against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7085 after touching an earlier high of $0.7109.
Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures traded fractionally higher at $114.08 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.16% to $110.51 per barrel.
— CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report.