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Shares in Asia mixed with Tokyo down slightly, Shanghai gains 0.23%

Investing.com –

Investing.com – Shares in Tokyo edged lower after the break on Friday with investors focused on continued speculation on the timing of a Federal Reserve rate hike.

The Nikkei 225 fell 0.11%, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.23%.

Overnight, stocks on the U.S. equities markets were mixed on Thursday, one day after a broad rally following indications from the Federal Reserve that it will lower interest rates at some point in 2015.

Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Composite index retreated after Wednesday’s gains, the NASDAQ Composite index closed higher for the fourth consecutive day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.65% or 117.16 to 17,959.03, while the NASDAQ rose 0.19% or 9.55 to 4,992.38 as it neared the 5,000 level hit earlier in the month.

Overnight, the U.S. dollar rebounded against the euro on Thursday, one day after experiencing its largest one-day drop in more than six years amid indications from the Federal Reserve that it could raise interest rates by June.

On Wednesday, Fed chair Janet Yellen said the Federal Open Market Committee will remove a reference to remaining patient as it decides on the timing of hiking interest rates above current levels of near 0%.

The euro is down by more than 10% against its American counterpart this year, as the start of its highly-anticipated bond buying program coincided with expectations of tightening by the Fed.

In Brussels, there was little progress in talks between Greece and its euro zone creditors aimed at settling the reform measures needed by Athens to secure a critical bailout package.

If a resolution is not reached by Thursday night, the next opportunity for an accord will be on Monday afternoon when Greece prime minister Alexis Tsipras is scheduled to meet with Germany chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

While the Fed appeared to be hawkish with the removal of patience, Yellen appeared to strike a dovish tone with forecasts for weaker inflation and GDP growth.

The Fed expects Real GDP to grow between 2.1 and 3.1% for the remainder of 2015, while it predicted inflation of 0.6% to 0.8% by the end of the year. For 2016, the Fed projects that inflation will be between 1.7% and 1.9%.

Last month in testimony before Congress, Yellen said that the Fed wanted to see inflation move toward its target goal of 2% before it raised interest rates.

In spite of the revisions, Yellen went out of her way to note that overall the forecast was not weak. She pointed to improvements in the labor market, forecasts for “above trend growth,” and estimates of lowering unemployment to 5% by year’s end to underscore her optimism.

“We do see considerable underlying strength in the US economy in spite of what looks like a weaker first quarter,” Yellen said.

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