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Asian markets tumble on Fed rate call

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by December 15, 2016 General

AFP
December 16, 2016, 12:10 am TWN

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The euro tumbled Thursday to a near 14-year dollar low point, one day after the U.S. Federal Reserve lifted interest rates and signalled three more hikes for next year.

At approximately 1145 GMT, the European single currency tanked to US$1.0411, which was the lowest level since January 2003.

Most Asian markets also saw steep losses.

Investors were sent scurrying on the prospect of tighter borrowing costs as the Federal Reserve positions itself for an expected jump in inflation if Donald Trump makes good on promises to ramp up infrastructure spending and slash taxes.

While the decision to lift rates had been a certainty, a plan to hike them three times rather than the expected twice jolted trading floors.

The news sent the dollar soaring well past 117 yen and its highest level since February, while it also bulldozed other currencies, particularly higher-yielding, riskier, units and those of emerging market nations.

“This is flat out hawkish, and the U.S. dollar is reacting accordingly,” Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, said in a note. “I thought we would be calling (Fed chief Janet Yellen’s) bluff this morning, as the market had expected at most a subtle shift in Fed language.

“However, the Fed’s forward guidance is in reaction to Trumpflation as Dr. Yellen did little to quell the markets’ pent up view that both growth and inflation will accelerate in 2017.”

In Asian trade the greenback pushed towards 118 yen and jumped more than one percent against the Australian and Canadian dollar while their New Zealand counterpart was almost two percent down. The Mexican peso also tumbled.

The dollar was also up 0.7 percent on the South Korean won and 0.6 percent versus Indonesia’s rupiah. The Thai baht, Malaysian ringgit and Singapore dollar also suffered heavy losses.

‘Big event’

In her post-announcement conference, Yellen said the rise was a reflection of “the confidence we have in the progress that the economy has made and our judgment that that progress will continue.”

However, the upbeat outlook for the key driver of global growth was unable to comfort Asian traders worried about a flood of cash out of their own economies as dealers look for better returns in the U.S.

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