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Asian markets mixed after US Fed leaves rate unchanged

In Photo: A currency trader walks by screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (left) and the foreign exchange rate between US dollar and South Korean won at the foreign-exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, on February 1.

SEOUL, South Korea—Asian markets were mixed on Thursday with Tokyo stocks higher as the yen weakened against the US dollar. Chinese markets declined after the US Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rate unchanged.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.7 percent to 23,486.11 and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.1 percent to 2,568.54. But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.4 percent to 32,750.18 and China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 1 percent to 3,445.73. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9 percent to 6,090/10. Stocks in Southeast Asia were higher.

“Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s last meeting prior to stepping down saw the Fed reinforcing their positive outlook over both the economy and inflation while unanimously voting to keep rates unchanged,” Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore, said in a daily commentary.

The Fed kept its key rate in a still-low range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent and said in a statement that it expects inflation to finally pick up this year, stabilizing around the Fed’s target level of 2 percent. The Fed also indicated that it thinks the job market and the overall economy are continuing to improve.

On Wednesday, US stocks finished with marginal gains, ending a two-day losing streak.  The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.1 percent to 2,823.81. The Dow Jones industrial average added 0.3 percent to 26,149.39. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.1 percent to 7,411.48. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 0.5 percent, to 1,574.98.

Benchmark US crude rose 1 cent to $64.74 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 23 cents to settle at $64.73 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 6 cents to $68.95 per barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 109.58 yen from 109.20 yen. The euro fell to $1.239 from $1.2411.

Image credits: AP

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