Global stocks flat as investors await Fed meeting outcome

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FED IN FOCUS: At their latest meeting, Fed policymakers kept short-term interest rates unchanged but said they still expect one more increase this year and three in 2018, if persistently low inflation rebounds.

"The lack of movement in the dot [plot] signals that the committee is still comfortable that the recent dip in inflation is a blip", said Rob Carnell, Asia head of research at ING, in a note.

"Keeping rate hikes where they were was expected".

The three major US stock indexes edged higher on Tuesday, logging closing records, with financial stocks providing the biggest boost a day ahead of the Federal Reserve's concluding statement from its two-day policy meeting.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 1.1 percent to $50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, advanced by the same rate to $55.77 per barrel in London. The Nasdaq composite added 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,459.

There were also foreign exchange moves following the announcement.

The greenback continued to advance against other higher-yielding currencies with the Australian and Canadian dollars, South Korean won and Indonesia's rupiah all well down. Brent crude rose 0.4 percent to trade at Dollars 55.36 a barrel, a touch below a five-month high of USD 55.99 set recently.

While mostly brushed off by investors, the comments revived the stand-off between the USA and North Korea earlier in the month after Pyongyang tested a nuclear bomb and ratcheted up tensions in the region.

Stateside, most indexes closed higher on Wednesday as financial stocks made gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 22,388. Toshiba indicated last week it had entered into a memorandum of understanding with Bain Capital, which backed a separate group bidding for the unit, over the sale.

On Thursday, the Bank of Japan maintained its policy settings, including its loose pledge to keep buying bonds so its holdings increase at an annual pace of 80 trillion yen ($717.6 billion).

Meanwhile, Western Digital said it would be commencing arbitration against Toshiba through its subsidiaries.

The Janet Yellen-led Fed acknowledged that the hurricanes' effect will provide a temporary boost to inflation, but that it will still remain below the desired 2 percent in the near term.

Best Buy fell more than 7 percent after the No 1 U.S. electronics retailer provided financial targets for 2021.

The kiwi traded at 73.50 USA cents as at 8am, having earlier reached a six-week high of 74.33 cents, from 73.12 cents before yesterday's poll that gave a boost to the local currency.

Falling metals and iron ore prices also pressured the Aussie, as well as comments on Thursday from the country's central bank governor that were less hawkish than some had anticipated. New Zealand posted a seasonally adjusted current account deficit of NZD1.598 billion in the second quarter of 2017, Statistics New Zealand said. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 2.78 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,506.65, hitting its fifth record closing high in the last six sessions. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time.

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