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Markets higher after Fed move

Written by: Staff
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HONG KONG, May 11 (Reuters) Asian stocks rose on Thursday after the Federal Reserve lifted U.S. interest rates for a 16th straight time, as widely expected, but left the door open to further hikes.

The Federal Open Market Committee raised its benchmark fed funds rate to 5 percent from 4.75 percent and said future moves would depend on how the economy unfolded.

''The FOMC meeting is past, so the market should settle down a bit after recent nervousness,'' said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of equity marketing at Nikko Cordial Securities.

''But the statement was the same as before, and doesn't give us a clue as to which we should go.'' At 0030 GMT, Tokyo's Nikkei average had risen 0.34 percent thanks to gains of 1.3 percent for Tokyo Electron and 2.6 percent for Softbank, which a day earlier reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit.

Investors in South Korea, awaiting the Bank of Korea's policy meeting, kept the market on an even keel with the key KOSPI rising a modest 0.15 percent.

''What kind of stance the Bank of Korea holds about the economy is key, so we'll be looking at the statement and comments from the bank officials,'' said Kim Jeong-hwan, a strategist at Woori Investment and Securities.

Samsung Electronics edged 0.2 percent higher after the world's largest maker of memory chips said it expected significant margin improvements in its key businesses, including memory chips, flat screens and handsets.

Also in favour, Hynix Semiconductor climbed 1.6 percent after Wednesday's 2.6 percent fall, while KT Freetel added 2.1 percent after index provider MSCI said it would include the mobile operator into its MSCI Emerging Markets Index after May 31.

Australia's key S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.44 percent on the back of further strength in the miners such as BHP Billiton and Newcrest Mining, both up over 1 percent.

National Australia Bank put on 1.2 percent after the country's biggest bank posted a 9 percent rise in first-half earnings.

On Wednesday, U.S. blue chips edged 0.02 percent higher but the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.75 percent. Allahabad Bank earnings.

REUTERS PDS PM0621

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