Asian Stocks Up, Fed Policy Decision Retains Dovish Tone By

© Reuters.

By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly up Thursday morning, as investors digested the U.S. Federal Reserves’ latest dovish .

China’s was up 0.61% by 11:26 PM ET (3:26 AM GMT) and the rose 1.14%. U.S-China tensions are up after the U.S. slapped more sanctions on 24 Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials in response to the drastic overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system.

Hong Kong’s jumped 1.28%.

Japan’s gained 0.80%, with a government advisory panel approving a plan to let the state of emergency expire in the Tokyo area as scheduled on Mar. 21.

South Korea’s rose 0.98% while in Australia, the fell 0.65%.

Alongside its decision, handed down on Wednesday, the said that it expected inflation to reach 2.4% above its 2% target, in 2021. However, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell shrugged it off as a temporary surge that will not change the central bank’s pledge to keep its benchmark overnight interest rate near zero through to 2023.

Powell’s dovish stance on inflation and the recent spike in bond yields sent yields on shorter-dated Treasuries tumbling, with the ten and 30-year benchmarks retreated from their highest levels in over a year.

The Fed’s projections surprised some investors.

“It’s sort of shocking… that officially the U.S. government believes it will grow faster than the Chinese government believes it will grow this year,” Barings Investment Institute chief global strategist Christopher Smart told Reuters, adding that it was a “head-turning moment for investors.”

Markets had expected the Fed to take a more hawkish tone, as the global economic recovery continues thanks to continued progress on COVID-19 vaccines and the $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law earlier in the month. The growing concern about rising inflation drove bond yields up and triggered a rotation from growth stocks to value shares.

Other investors were more optimistic, however, after being reassured by the renewed emphasis on continued policy support.

“It looks like up, up, and away from here” for equities, Mahjabeen Zaman, Citigroup (NYSE:) Australia senior investment specialist, told Bloomberg.

“We’re moving into value plays because we’re very clear PEs for growth stocks, in particular, are exceptionally high” and will be hit by higher yields, she added.

Meanwhile, the will hand down its policy decision later in the day and the will round the week off on Friday.

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