Shares struggle, commodities down as Fed disappoints


Asian stocks outside Japan slipped and commodities fell broadly on Thursday after the Federal Reserve ramped up monetary stimulus by expanding “Operation Twist” but disappointed some investors who had been hoping for more aggressive measures. The U.S. central bank, as expected, extended its programme of selling short-term securities and buying longer-dated ones, a move aimed at driving down borrowing costs, but did not signal a third round of quantitative easing. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.8 percent, Brent crude oil slid to an 18-month low and the Australian dollar, sensitive to commodities demand, also lost ground. Sentiment was not improved by closely watched data from China, where HSBC’s flash purchasing managers index showed the factory sector contracted for an eighth straight month in June, with export orders and prices at their weakest since early 2009. Japan’s Nikkei share average bucked the trend, rising 1 percent after the Fed’s decision to restrict itself to extending Operation Twist to the end of the year weakened the yen against the dollar, which should help Japanese exporters.