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Asian shares lower on Fed

Hong Kong: Asian markets eased Thursday, following a lead from Wall Street, as investors looked to next week’s Federal Reserve policy meeting with speculation growing that the bank will cut its stimulus programme.

Tokyo fell 1.12 per cent, or 173.24 points, to close at 15,341.82, while Seoul slipped 0.51 per cent, or 10.04 points, to 1,967.93 and Sydney ended 0.82 per cent, or 41.7 points, lower at 5,062.5.

Shanghai closed a tad lower, dipping 1.37 points to 2,202.80 while Hong Kong lost 0.51 per cent, or 120.12 points, to end at 23,218.12.

The Fed’s $85 billion-a-month scheme has been credited with fuelling a global equities rally this year as it has supplied vast sums of cheap money to investors.

Added to that was Tuesday’s Democratic-Republican two-year budget deal which, if passed by Congress, would avert a shutdown crisis such as the one that paralyzed Washington in October.

On forex markets, the dollar edged up to 102.79 yen in afternoon trade, against 102.40 yen in New York on Wednesday.

The euro fetched $1.3793, compared with $1.3785, adding to four straight days of advances against the greenback. The single currency also fetched 141.80 yen compared with 141.19 yen.

In oil trade, New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery, was up 16 cents at $97.60 in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude for January added 19 cents to $109.89.

Gold fetched $1,242.75 at 1050 GMT compared with $1,256.40.

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