US Fed comments send Asian stocks higher

<p>The US Federal Reserve took a dovish stance on monetary policy.</p>

Asian shares mostly traded higher today (March 19th) led by an upbeat session on Wall Street overnight as investors welcomed a dovish statement from the Federal Reserve on monetary policy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed more than one per cent up.

The Fed dropped its "patient" language from the policy statement, and trimmed its growth and inflation forecasts, sending a dovish message to markets that it is in no hurry to raise interest rates any time soon. It also said unemployment could fall further than first thought without risking a spike in inflation.

"They (Fed) are still on course to raise rates, but they will do that at a more gradual pace over the years ahead," Lee Hardman, an FX strategist at Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, told Reuters.

China's Shanghai Composite index rose 0.14 per cent to 3,582.27, while the Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 1.45 per cent to close at 24,468.89 and Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index jumped 1.86 per cent to 5950.8. However, the benchmark Nikkei average dropped 0.35 per cent to 19,476.56 on profit-taking.

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