SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian markets appeared headed for some brief turbulence on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy outlook was deemed less dovish than some had wagered on.
Wall Street stocks slipped and Treasury yields popped higher after the U.S. central bank kept its $85 billion-a-month stimulus plan intact but did not sound quite as alarmed about the state of the economy as some had anticipated.
Given U.S. shares had reached record highs this week, the resulting profit-taking came as no surprise.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 0.39 percent and the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.49 percent. The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS showed even less damage, easing just 0.1 percent from a high not seen since January 2008.
Dealers said the market had talked itself into expecting the Fed would make dovish changes to the statement, so it was somehow considered “hawkish” when those did not materialize.
“We interpreted the statement as neutral and balanced and think the Fed is essentially in a holding pattern,” said analysts at Australia and New Zealand Bank.
“If anything, the assessment section was a touch softer, suggesting the Fed are not trying to give the impression that it is setting up for a December move.”
Much of the market is still not pricing in a start of tapering until March, when the Fed policy meeting will include new economic forecasts from officials and a news conference by Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Indeed, it was notable that Fed fund futures barely budged on the statement, showing investors still did not expect any increase in official rates until well into 2015.
Likewise, short-dated Treasury yields stayed well anchored while the longer end moved up only modestly. Yields on the 10-year note were up 3 basis points on the day at 2.53 percent, far below the 3 percent peak hit in early September.
Currency moves were also moderate, with the U.S. dollar edging further away for recent lows. The dollar index .DXY added 0.15 percent on the day to 79.732.
The euro dipped to $1.3726, losing gains made Wednesday after data showed a jump in euro zone sentiment in October. The dollar fared better against the yen, hitting a near two-week high of 98.67, a move that should offer some support to Japanese stocks.
The Bank of Japan holds its policy meeting on Thursday and is expected to carry on with its massive stimulus program.
Spot gold flattened after rising the most in a week at one stage on Wednesday. Gold fetched $1,341.84 an ounce, little changed on the day.
Brent crude added 76 cents to $109.77 a barrel as export disruptions in Libya continued to cut supplies to Europe and Asia.
In contrast, the benchmark U.S. contract was off 12 cents at $96.65 a barrel after a bigger-than-expected increase in inventories in the United States.
Editing by Mark Bendeich