US Fed to 'soon' raise interest rates

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In the minutes, released Wednesday, an official at the US central bank said it would "soon be appropriate" to raise short-term interest rates again, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Bond traders also continued to react positively to the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting, which included an outline of a plan to trim its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

The S&P 500 posted 49 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 99 new highs and 57 new lows.

"Members generally judged that it would be prudent to await additional evidence indicating that the recent slowdown in the pace of economic activity had been transitory before taking another step in removing accommodation", the Fed said in an account, released after a standard three-week delay.

The Fed also signaled that interest rates could be raised soon, but added that "it would be prudent" to wait for more USA economic data.

The unemployment rate in April fell to 4.4 percent, its lowest level since May 2007, supporting the possibility of a rate hike in June when the bank will meet.

US Fed to 'soon' raise interest rates

The Taiwanese currency and stocks benefited from foreign buying, with the Taiwan dollar ending two days of losses while the benchmark stock index rose for a fourth session, adding 0.6 percent.

Toronto-Dominion Bank reported second-quarter results which were ahead of market expectations, helped by a strong performance at its retail and investment banking businesses. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 36.32 points, or 0.59 percent, to 6,199.35. However, the Fed chose to look past this first quarter weakness as it indicated at its May 3 meeting and signaled it remains on track for a June rate hike. Oil prices have rallied over the last few weeks as investors expected the cut to be extended, which would shore up prices.

While OPEC agreed to extend a cut in production until March of 2018, investors had been hoping the cartel would announce a further reduction in output. The company also said it will cut $20 million in spending and its stock gained $1.68, or 40.5 percent, to $5.83.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 30 cents to $51.17 per barrel in NY while Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, sank 34 cents to $53.81 a barrel in London. Down Under, the ASX 200 was steady, edging higher by 0.28%.

The yen fell 0.3 percent to 111.78 per dollar, helping nudge Tokyo stocks up 0.4 percent at the close. The euro edged up to $1.1174 from $1.1185. The chance of fewer United States rate rises may be expected to bolster non-yielding assets such as the oldest haven.

London's stock market eked out a small gain of 0.4 percent, while Frankfurt and Paris both slid 0.1 percent.

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