Tokyo, Japan (BBN) – Asian markets traded modestly lower on Thursday, following a mixed close in US equities overnight as minutes from the Federal Reserve’s previous meeting hinted that a rate hike is coming “fairly soon.”
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 traded down 0.18 per cent, while across the Korean Strait, the Kospi was fractionally lower at 2,105.50, reports CNBC.
Australia’s ASX 200 fell 0.39 per cent in morning trade, with the heavily-weighted financial subindex near flat and the materials sector off by 1.72 per cent.
Qantas reported first-half underlying profit before tax fell 7.5 percent on-year to 852 million Australian dollars for the six months ended December 31, 2016, but was above the guidance range provided in October.
Qantas shares were up 3.94 per cent in the morning session.
Nissan announced it was appointing its co-CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, to be the chief executive officer as of April 1.
Carlos Ghosn, who is chairman of the board and CEO, will continue to serve as chairman and will seek a renewal of mandate at Nissan’s general shareholders meeting in June. Nissan shares slipped 0.76 per cent in early trade.
In the currency market, the dollar index traded at 101.39 at 8:32am HK/SIN.
Analysts said the Fed’s meeting minutes failed to give the dollar a lift that many had been waiting for.
Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at ThinkMarkets, said in a note the greenback “reconsidered breaking above 101.74 resistance, yet it’s failure to do so for the second occasion in a week suggest potential for near-term weakness.”
Simpson added in the absence of major data, unless there are further details on President Donald Trump’s tax plans or fiscal stimulus, the dollar is expected to remain capped for the week.
The yen traded at 113.34 to the dollar, while the Australian dollar fetched $0.7671.
The euro traded at $1.0547.
Oil traded higher Thursday morning Asia time, with US crude up 0.75 per cent to $53.99 a barrel, while Brent was yet to trade.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute showed on Wednesday crude inventories fell by 884,000 barrels in the week to February 17, to 512.7 million, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 3.5 million barrels, Reuters reported.