Asian stocks edge higher on Wall Street cues; oil up | Reuters

HONG KONG Asian stocks edged higher on Thursday, underpinned by a firm Wall Street after minutes from the Federal Reserve's December meeting suggested a less hawkish stance from policymakers.Oil prices rose on expectations of drops in U.S. inventories.MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS gained 0.2 percent, on track for a eighth consecutive session of gains. Early Asian markets such as Australia rose 0.4 percent."The FOMC dot plots project three interest rate hikes in 2017 however the market is less optimistic with Fed Fund futures pricing in two hikes," said James Woods, global investment strategist at Rivkin Securities in Sydney. "The market will now focus on Trump’s first 100 days where he sets the tone for his presidency and whether or not he will be able to implement his policies."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 0.3 percent to end at 19,942.16 and the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.57 percent to 2,270.75 after minutes showed most Federal Reserve policymakers thought the economy could grow more quickly because of fiscal stimulus under the Trump administration.The FOMC minutes noted upside risk to growth forecasts and uncertainty over the level of fiscal stimulus, while some members warned that the tighter labour market could signal a more aggressive path of rate increases.

In currencies, the dollar briefly stumbled after policymakers noted extended gains in the greenback would weigh on inflation though it managed to pare losses by the end of a choppy U.S. session.The dollar was trading around the 117 handle against the Japanese yen JPY= while it edged lower against the euro EUR=.

China's offshore yuan CNH=D3 was the only notable exception with the currency posting its biggest daily gain against the dollar in a year.Oil managed to hold on to Wednesday's chunky gains on expectations U.S. oil inventories have dropped and on signs that the world's top oil exporters will stick to agreed output cuts that took effect this week. Crude futures CLc1 rose 0.2 percent. (Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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Published Date: Jan 05, 2017 06:45 AM | Updated Date: Jan 05, 2017 06:45 AM

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