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Markets hold breath ahead of Fed meeting
April 25, 2016, 9:23 am

The FOMC will not announce a policy change but could hint at the next cycle of interest rate hikes [Xinhua]

The FOMC will not announce a policy change but could hint at the next cycle of interest rate hikes [Xinhua]

A scheduled meeting of the US Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) later this week has global stocks falling as investors wait for clues when America’s central bank will raise interest rates.

In Japan, the Nikkei fell 0.8 per cent to 17,439.62 at press time on Monday.

South Korea’s Kospi dropped down 0.05 percent to 2,014.52.

In China, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) retreated 0.42 per cent to 2,946 while Hong Kong’s Hang Senk fell 0.5 per cent to 21,362.76.

The Fed raised interest rates in December and signaled it would do so several times during 2016.

But worse-than-expected global economic performance – low commodity prices and plummeting oil prices between January and March – weighed in on the FOMC’s last meeting in March, and interest rates were held level.

The delay in raising interest rates opened the opportunity for currencies and stock exchanges in emerging markets – which make up 40 per cent of the global economy – to strengthen considerably.

Meanwhile, oil prices retreated slightly ahead of the FOMC meeting: US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell just over one per cent to $43.26 a barrel, while Brent Crude relaxed 0.95 per cent to $44.68.

While oil prices have somewhat recovered from their drastic fall below $30 a barrel in February – a welcome position for major exporters like Russia and Venezuela – the trepidation over the FOMC’s meeting later this week appears to have cut short a rally in emerging markets.

In the interim, markets will also be looking to policy announcements from the Bank of Japan and the central bank in New Zealand later this week.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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