Mar. 20: Asian session
Asian markets moved lower on Thursday on concerns that the US could push up interest rates earlier than expected. In a press-conference after the FOMC meeting, Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the Fed could raise rates "something on the order of six months" after the bank shuts down its bond-buying program. Markets were surprised: it means that rates could be raised as early as April 205 —ahead of the late 2015 market expectation. As expected, the central bank reduced its QE program by $10 billion to $55 billion. US dollar strengthened versus the other major currencies.
USD/JPY jumped to 102.70 on the FOMC news, but retraced to 102.30 in early Asia. Nikkei 225 index lost 1.3%.AUD/USD consolidates 20 pips above the yesterday’s through at $0.9000.NZD/USD extended the yesterday’s drop, hitting a session low of $0.8520 on weaker-than-expected New Zealand Q4 GDP (+0.9% vs. expected +1.0%, Q3 reading revised down to +1.2%). Gold hit a low of $1326 today (lowest since the end of February).
EUR/USD has recovered some ground to $1.3840 after the yesterday’s 120 pips drop to $1.3810. GBP/USD followed the euro, recovering from the low of $1.6510 to $1.6540. USD/CHF hit a high of $0.8810 in the US session. Swiss National Bank will announce its monetary policy decision at 8:30 GMT.