Asia slips; Nikkei off 0.6%, Shanghai down 1.6% – CNBC

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Asia markets ended lower Thursday, amid fresh declines in oil prices and concerns the U.S. Federal Reserve may hike interest rates sooner than expected.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended down 108.65 points, or 0.64 percent, at 16,892.33, while South Korea’s Kospi index fell 9.15 points, or 0.46 percent, to 1,985.97. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended lower by 269.62 points, or 1.31 percent, at 20,345.61.

Chinese markets finished lower, with the Shanghai composite off 48.84 points, or 1.62 percent, at 2,961.11, while the Shenzhen composite was lower by 26.42 points, or 1.38 percent, at 1,876.10.

Down Under, the benchmark ASX 200 closed down 58.05 points, or 1.13 percent, at 5,084.20.

While last week’s Fed meeting was viewed as dovish, with the central bank saying it would likely increase rates twice this year, down from its previous forecast of four times, officials now appear to be putting a possible April hike back on the table.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard was the latest to join a growing chorus of Fed officials who say it’s time for the Fed to move.

“We can look at April and see what the data look like when we get to April,” Bullard told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. His comments came shortly after Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said the Fed should consider another hike as soon as next month.

In a morning note, Mizuho Bank said, “Expectations of an earlier Fed tightening are now seeping through markets, albeit at a slow pace, with fewer investors willing to place bets on what the Fed say they might do, especially after what they have actually done by pushing back rate hikes.”

Asia slips; Nikkei off 0.6%, Shanghai down 1.6% – CNBC}