Asian indexes mixed, weighing prospects of fewer Fed hikes

Asian indexes mixed, weighing prospects of fewer Fed hikes

Asian markets mostly rose Monday following last week's forecast-busting USA jobs report but the dollar weakened against most other currencies, with this week's expected Federal Reserve interest rate hike already accounted for.

Japan's benchmark index, Nikkei 225 fell 32.12 points or 0.16 percent to settle at 19,577.38. Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up 0.2 percent to 24,347.76, while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.3 percent to 3 3,260.62.

Global markets were mixed Friday as investors awaited a meeting of finance and economic ministers of the Group of 20 industrial countries.

NC Unemployment up in January
The number of unemployed residents rose by 2,726 to 23,887, while the number of employed residents decreased by 1,094 to 387,721. The number of employed residents dropped from 10,012 to 9,974 while the number of unemployed residents grew from 564 to 632.

The Nikkei shed 0.4 percent to 19,521.59.

The dollar took a hit after the Fed ended its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday by increasing interest rates but stuck to its projections of three total rate hikes in 2017, instead of the four some expected. Most investors expect the Fed to raise rates for only the third time since they went to almost zero during the financial crisis in 2008. With strong economic reports in recent weeks, expectations that the Fed may stand pat this month have changed.

Risk sentiment was dampened with analysts widely expecting the base interest rate to be raised by half a percent, pushing it to a range of 1% to 1.25%. The British government, meanwhile, has been cleared by parliament to formally begin the process of exiting the EU. Margaret Yang, a market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said the so-called Brexit process could begin as early as the last week of March.

U.S. charges two Russian spies over Yahoo hack
With access to the technology, the hackers spied on the contents of more than 6,500 individual users, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said they received no response to their requests to the Russian government to turn over Belan to U.S. authorities.

The greenback was also down against most high-yielding units with South Korea's won 1.2 percent higher and the Australian dollar 0.5 percent up.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 11 cents to $48.86 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 115.09 yen from 114.884 yen while the euro slipped to $1.0642 from $1.0653. The contract fell 9 cents to close at $48.40 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, which is used to price worldwide oils, gained 4 cents to $51.78 a barrel.

SA government electrifies with new power plan
He also flagged concern over the government's proposal to bring in new powers to intervene in the functioning of the grid. Adelaide-based oil and gas producer Beach Energy, which focuses operations on the Cooper Basin, applauded the plan.

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