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Dovish Fed shift lifts Asian shares, dollar nurses losses

Dovish Fed shift lifts Asian shares, dollar nurses losses
FILE PHOTO: Men look at stock quotation boards outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato -
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ISSEI KATO(Reuters)
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By Andrew Galbraith

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shares in Asia rose on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve took a more accommodative stance at its policy meeting, but concerns over slowing global growth and U.S.-China trade talks are expected to limit gains.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.5 percent in early trade. Australian shares were last down 0.1 percent.

Markets in Japan are closed on Thursday for a public holiday.

The rise in the broad Asian index followed a wobbly session on Wall Street overnight, as growth and trade concerns overcame an initial shift towards more risk-taking sparked by the Fed's dovish shift.

In comments at the end of a two-day policy meeting Wednesday, the Fed abandoned projections for any interest rate hikes this year amid signs of an economic slowdown, and said it would halt the steady decline of its balance sheet in September.

But while investors cheered the Fed's new approach, the reasons behind it sparked concern. Lingering worries about China-U.S. trade talks, which are set to resume next week, also weighed on the investment mood, with U.S. President Donald Trump warning that Washington may leave tariffs on Chinese goods for a "substantial period" to ensure Beijing's compliance with any trade deal.

"What the Fed is doing is trying to engineer a soft landing. What the market is hearing though is things have gotten so weak so quickly ... and the earnings outlook is so dire that real money managers don't want to chase this rally," Greg McKenna, strategist at McKenna Macro wrote in a morning note to clients.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.55 percent to 25,745.67, the S&P 500 lost 0.29 percent to 2,824.23 and the Nasdaq Composite added less than 0.1 percent to 7,728.97.

The Fed's comments pushed yields on benchmark U.S. Treasuries lower, with 10-year notes yielding 2.5245 percent compared with a U.S. close of 2.537 percent on Wednesday.

The abandonment of plans for more rate hikes this year pushed the two-year yield, sensitive to expectations of higher Fed fund rates, to 2.3982 percent, down from a U.S. close of 2.4 percent.

After falling on Wednesday, the dollar steadied, with a basket tracking the currency against major rivals flat at 95.910.. It was up a hair against the Japanese currency, buying 110.70 yen.

The euro was up 0.14 percent on the day at $1.1427, while sterling rebounded from a sharp drop Wednesday after British Prime Minister Theresa May asked the EU to delay Brexit until June 30, a shorter extension than some in the market had been expecting. May later said she was "not prepared to delay Brexit any further."

The pound was up 0.11 percent at $1.3211.

In commodity markets, oil prices, which had jumped Wednesday on supply concerns, retreated.

U.S. crude fell 0.1 percent to $60.17 a barrel after touching four-month highs on Wednesday. Brent crude was a touch lower at $68.47 per barrel.

Gold gained on the weaker dollar, with spot gold up 0.27 percent at $1,315.72 per ounce. [GOL/]

Graphic: Asian stock markets (https://tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4)

(Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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