Fed rate hike: Chairperson Janet Yellen says it is “appropriate” in the coming months
Fed Chair Janet Yellen said recently that it would be unwise to wait too long to raise interest rates again Reuters

Most Asian stock market indices were trading lower on Thursday (23 February), with the Shanghai Composite down 0.33% at 3,250.32 as of 5.13am GMT, following the US Federal Reserve indicating an increase in interest rates.

The minutes of the Fed's latest policy meeting show that many its policymakers are in favour of raising rates again "fairly soon" provided data on jobs and inflation data come in line with expectations.

While voting to keep rates unchanged currently, the minutes also showed a level of uncertainty at the Fed amid lack of clarity on the new economic policy of US President Donald Trump.

Fed chair Janet Yellen had said recently that it would be unwise to wait too long to raise interest rates, indicating an increase in the summer.

Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG, was cited by Reuters as saying: "A look at the market's reaction would suggest that the perception of the minutes was a relatively dovish one. This is in comparison to hawkish expectations following Fed chair Janet Yellen's address last week. Indeed, the discussion on fiscal policy did suggest that a portion of Fed members believe that the uncertainty could put the Fed off course for an early hike."

South Korea's central bank kept interest rates unchanged at 1.25% but the markets were lukewarm to this as it was widely expected.

Indices in the region were trading as follows at 5:23am GMT:

CountryIndexPriceUp/Down%Change
Hong KongHang Seng Index24,127.75Down0.31%
JapanNikkei 22519,323.29Down0.29%
South KoreaKOSPI2,106.74Up0.01%
IndiaBSE28,945.36Up0.28%
AustraliaS&P/ASX 2005,784.70Down0.35%

On 22 February the FTSE 100 closed 0.38% higher at 7,302.25 while the S&P 500 index closed 0.11% lower at 2,362.82.

Among commodities, oil prices gained after data from the American Petroleum Institute indicated a surprise drop in US crude inventories last week. As of 12.17am EST, WTI crude oil was up 0.93% at $54.09 (£43.46) a barrel, while Brent crude was trading 0.90% higher at $56.34 a barrel.