Ouch… World stocks fall on Fed interest-rate message

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, TOKYO – Global stocks fell Thursday after comments from the new head of the Federal Reserve suggested US interest rates could rise sooner than financial markets were anticipating.

Janet Yellen’s comments after the Fed’s first policy meeting since she replaced Ben Bernanke rippled through Asian and European markets Thursday after sending Wall Street lower and the dollar higher the previous day.

Germany’s DAX lost 0.5 percent to 9,226.84 in early trading and France’s CAC 40 inched down 0.4 percent to 4,289.02. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.8 percent to 6,520.48.

Futures suggested Wall Street would extend the previous day’s losses. Dow futures were down 0.1 percent at 16,122 and S&P 500 futures dropped 0.1 percent to 1,850.30.

Hiromichi Tamura, chief strategist at Nomura Securities Co. in Tokyo, said higher U.S. interest rates were expected to come eventually, but there was “a surprise element” in Yellen’s remarks.

At a press conference, Yellen implied that the Fed’s time frame for raising interest rates was closer to the first half of 2015, sooner than many had expected. The Fed also voted to cut its monthly bond purchases from 65 billion USD to 55 billion USD as part of its ongoing winding down of the extraordinary monetary stimulus.

The dollar on Wednesday had its biggest one-day gain since August because of the higher interest rate talk.

The Nikkei 225, the benchmark for the Tokyo stock market, fell 1.7 percent to 14,224.23 and South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.9 percent to 1,919.52.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sank 1.8 percent to 21,182.16. Shares also fell in Taiwan, Australia, India and Southeast Asia.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 27 cents to 100.10 USD a barrel in electronic trading on New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 67 cents to 100.37 USD on Wednesday. Most trading has moved to the May contract, which was up down 33 cents at 98.84 USD a barrel.

The euro slipped 1.3797 USD from 1.3825 USD late Wednesday. The dollar fell to 102.42 yen from 102.46 yen.

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