December 17, 2014 / 1:37 AM / in 3 years

Asia comforted by strong Wall Street, confident Fed

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian shares rallied on Thursday after U.S. stocks enjoyed their strongest session this year when the Federal Reserve sounded upbeat on the economy and promised to be patient in removing policy stimulus.

People pass electronic information boards at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

The jitters of recent days also calmed a touch as Russia managed to stabilise its rouble, if only for now, and oil prices eked out a rare bounce. As risk aversion ebbed, U.S. bond yields rose and the dollar regained some lost ground.

In Asia, Nikkei futures JNIc1 were pointing to an opening increase of at least 1 percent, while stocks in Australia climbed 1.1 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was flat.

Wall Street rebounded after three days of declines after the Fed said it would adopt a “patient” approach to raising interest rates. [TOP/CEN]

Equity investors seemed content that any move would be cautious and drove the Dow .DJI up 1.69 percent. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 2.04 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 2.12 percent.

Bond investors were less enthused as some had thought the downward spiral in oil combined with low inflation, economic weakness globally and the Russian financial crisis would lead the Fed to push out the likely timing of the first hike.

Instead, Fed Chair Janet Yellen played down the impact of oil and falling inflation expectations, while policy members kept their outlook for rates unchanged.

As a result, Treasuries erased an early rally and yields on two-year paper jumped 10 basis points from the day’s trough to stand at 0.617 percent US2YT=RR.

Still, longer-term yields remain low historically, as do market based measures of expected inflation. Data out on Wednesday showed consumer prices fell 0.3 percent in November, the biggest drop in six months, as fuel costs fell.

As a result, investors continue to wager that any tightening will proceed at a snail’s pace. Fed fund futures <0#FF:> currently imply a rate of 0.56 percent by the end of 2015, while the median forecast by Fed members is 1.25 percent.

The rise in yields was enough to revive U.S. dollar bulls after a few days of caution and the currency climbed to 118.92 yen JPY= from a low of 116.29.

The euro retreated to $1.2336 EUR=, after being as high as $1.2515 at one stage on Wednesday, while the U.S. dollar index gained 1 percent for the day .DXY.

The single currency also took a hit when European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure said there was support on the bank’s policymaking council for more action, with sovereign bond purchases the “baseline option”.

In commodity markets, oil prices were mixed after some wild swings on Wednesday. Brent LCOc1 was up 63 cents at $60.64, but had been as high as $68.71 at one stage.

U.S. crude CLc1 was quoted 36 cents lower at $56.11 having been as high as $58.98 on Wednesday.

Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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