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Asian Shares Gain After Fed Chair Speak12/01 06:03

   Shares advanced in Europe and Asia on Thursday after a rally on Wall Street 
spurred by the Federal Reserve chair's comments on easing the pace of interest 
rate hikes to tame inflation.

   BANGKOK (AP) -- Shares advanced in Europe and Asia on Thursday after a rally 
on Wall Street spurred by the Federal Reserve chair's comments on easing the 
pace of interest rate hikes to tame inflation.

   Signs that China may be shifting its approach to containing COVID-19 
outbreaks to focus more on vaccinations, while some cities have lifted pandemic 
lockdowns, also helped lift sentiment.

   In Europe, Germany's DAX gained 0.5% to 14,472.99 while the CAC 40 in Paris 
edged 0.1% higher to 6,750.81. Britain's FTSE 100 also was 0.1% higher, at 
7,580.56. The future for the S&P 500 was down 0.1% while that for the Dow 
industrials fell 0.2%.

   Stocks on Wall Street roared higher Wednesday after Fed Chair Jerome Powell, 
said in comments at the Brookings Institution that the central bank could begin 
moderating its pace of rate hikes as soon as December, when its policymaking 
committee will hold its next meeting.

   "We have a risk management balance to strike," Powell said. "And we think 
that slowing down (on rate hikes) at this point is a good way to balance the 
risks."

   The benchmark S&P 500 rose 3.1%, snapping a three-day losing streak. The Dow 
Jones Industrial Average gained 2.2% and the Nasdaq composite climbed 4.4%. The 
Russell 2000 index rose 2.7%.

   "The optimism in the market is that perhaps the worse is over for the U.S. 
in terms of inflation reading, and the Fed isn't going to increase the interest 
aggressively," Naeem Aslam of Avatrade said in a commentary.

   In Asia on Thursday, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index added 0.9% to 28,226.08 while 
the Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.8% to 18,736.44. The Shanghai Composite 
index climbed 0.5% to 3,165.47. In Seoul, the Kospi picked up 0.3% to 2,479.84. 
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1% to 7,354.40.

   Bangkok's SET rose 0.8% a day after the central bank raised its key interest 
rate by a quarter point to 1.25%, aiming to curb inflation.

   The stronger gains seen early in Asian trading had faded by the day's end.

   Markets have wobbled all year as the Fed has fought high inflation with 
aggressive interest rate increases.

   "While it could be argued that Jerome Powell's comments on Wednesday were 
relatively balanced -- slower tightening now but rates high for longer -- the 
last year has proven that anticipating the path of inflation even a short 
period ahead is incredibly difficult," Craig Erlam of Oanda said in a 
commentary.

   Powell stressed that the Fed will push rates higher than previously expected 
and keep them there for an extended period to ensure inflation comes down 
sufficiently.

   "History cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy," he said. 
"We will stay the course until the job is done."

   Wall Street has been hoping that the Fed will slow the scale and pace of its 
interest rate hikes. It has raised its benchmark interest rate six times since 
March, driving it to a range of 3.75% to 4%, the highest in 15 years. The goal 
is to make borrowing more costly and generally slow the economy in order to 
tame inflation.

   Higher mortgage rates have caused home sales to plunge and higher interest 
rates also have raised costs for most other consumer and business loans.

   The economy has been slowing, and many economists expect the U.S. to slip 
into a recession next year. But there are strong pockets of growth. The 
government said Wednesday that the economy expanded at a 2.9% annual rate from 
July through September, an upgrade from its initial estimate.

   Consumers have continued spending, despite inflation squeezing wallets. 
Overall, employment remains strong, though job openings dropped in October more 
than economists had anticipated and human resources company ADP reported an 
easing in private sector hiring in November.

   Investors will get more data Thursday on the employment sector with a report 
on weekly unemployment claims. The closely watched monthly report on the job 
market will be released on Friday.

   In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil lost 12 cents to $80.43 a barrel 
in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It climbed 3% on 
Wednesday.

   Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, shed 14 cents to 
$86.83 a barrel.

   The U.S. dollar fell to 136.31 Japanese yen from 138.09 yen. The euro rose 
to $1.0435 from $1.0409.

 
 
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