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Asia-Pacific stocks mixed as U.S. Fed minutes point to more rate hikes ahead

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SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific stocks appeared set for a higher start on Thursday after U.S. Federal Reserve meeting minutes showed officials stressing the need to raise interest rates swiftly and potentially more than markets anticipated.

Japan’s Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 26,820 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 26,760 –higher than the Nikkei 225’s last close at 26,677.80.

Shares in Australia looked poised for a muted start, with the SPI futures contract at 7,157, against the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 7,155.20.

U.S. Fed minutes released Wednesday showed officials are prepared to move ahead with several 50 basis point interest rate hikes. The Federal Open Market Committee also said policy may have to move away from “neutral” and into “restrictive” territory.

Shares on Wall Street rose following the release of the Fed minutes, with the S&P 500 climbing around 0.95% to 3,978.73. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 191.66 points, or 0.6%, to 32,120.28. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.51% to 11,434.74.

“The FOMC Minutes revealed a broad consensus for the need to tighten the policy rate by 50bps over the next couple of meetings,” National Australia Bank’s Rodrigo Catril wrote in a Thursday note.

“The market found some relief on the notion that the Minutes revealed a broad consensus for 50bps hikes in June and July and the possibility for a pause later in the year,” Catril said.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 102.056 following a recent slip from levels above 102.2.

The Japanese yen traded at 127.19 per dollar, weaker as compared with levels below 126.9 seen against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7096 after a recent bounce from levels below $0.708.

— CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

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