Asian shares fall as investors await new Fed leader

TOKYO: Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Thursday as investors awaited President Donald Trump’s announcement on his choice to lead the Federal Reserve. Some markets were pressured by investors locking in profits from recent gains.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 bucked the trend in the region, gaining 0.5 percent to 22,539.12. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.4 percent to 2,546.36, ending a four session winning streak. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.2 percent to 28,551.03 while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5 percent to 3,379.99. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent lower to 5,931.70. Stocks in Singapore elsewhere in Southeast Asia were mixed.

FED WATCH: The Federal Reserve kept its interest rates steady at their low levels as widely expected. It upgraded its outlook for the U.S. economy, saying that the world’s largest economy is rising “at a solid rate,” a term stronger than “moderate” rate used in September. That reinforced the belief the Fed will hike interest rates in December. President Donald Trump is expected to name a successor to Fed Chair Janet Yellen later Thursday. At a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Trump indicated it would be a “new head,” not Yellen. “I think you’ll be extremely impressed by this person,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript of the meeting.

WALL STREET: U.S. stock markets finished mixed on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 0.2 percent to 2,579.36. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.3 percent to 23,435.01. But the Nasdaq composite fell 0.2 percent to 6,716.53. The small-cap Russell 2000 index lost 0.7 percent to 1,492.78.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 2 cents to $54.28 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled at $54.30 per barrel on Wednesday, down 8 cents. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 8 cents to $60.57 per barrel in London. It fell 45 cents to $60.49 on Wednesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.90 Japanese yen from 113.71 yen late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1654 from $1.1621, and the British pound strengthened to $1.3284 from $1.3245.

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