Asian markets: China Shanghai Composite Index gains after US Fed leaves interest rates unchanged
Barring Japan, stock markets across Asia were trading higherReuters

The majority of the Asian stock market indices were trading higher, while China's Shanghai Composite Index which was up 0.97% at 2,898.36 on Thursday, 17 March at 5.38am GMT. This followed a positive close overnight on Wall Street and Footsie, amid the conclusion of the US Federal Reserve policy meeting.

After the two-day Fed policy meeting ended, the US central bank said it would leave interest rates unchanged. It also slashed the projected number of rate cuts from 4 to 2 in 2016 and said it proposes to have two rate cuts in 2017.

Angus Nicholson, market strategist at IG, said: "This was far more dovish than markets had expected, resulting in sharp rallies in commodities, emerging markets and commodity-related currencies."

The Fed is understood to have become more concerned about global problems. The China slowdown, in particular is supposed to have influenced the current stance take by the Fed.

Strategists at Barclays said: "In our view, the Fed has become increasingly responsive to changes in financial conditions. We believe this sensitivity is a problem since we see the Fed's intended policy actions as contributing to the very financial conditions that led to its eventual inaction."

Indices in the rest of Asia traded as follows on 17 March at 5.48am GMT:

CountryIndexPriceUp/Down%Change
Hong KongHang Seng Index20,487.44Up1.13%
JapanNikkei 22516,855.55Down0.70%
South KoreaKOSPI1,993.12Up0.92%
IndiaCNX Nifty7,553.90Up0.74%
AustraliaS&P/ASX 2005,168.20Up0.96%

Meanwhile, overnight on Thursday (16 March), the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,325.76, up 0.43%, while the FTSE 100 closed higher by 0.58% at 6,175.49.

Among commodities, oil prices got a boost after major oil producing nations planned to meet in Qatar to discuss putting a cap on their oil production. WTI crude oil was trading 1.40% higher at $39 (£27.39, €34.76) a barrel, while Brent was up 0.77% at $40.64 a barrel on 17 March at 5.58am GMT.