U.S. Federal Reserve, Japan retail sales data in focus

Stocks in Asia Pacific were set to trade higher at the open after the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged.

Futures pointed to a higher open for stocks in Japan. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 22,535 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 22,530. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 22,397.11.

Shares in Australia were also set to rise, with the SPI futures contract at 6,029.0, as compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 6,006.40.

In a widely expected move, the Fed on Wednesday kept its benchmark overnight lending rate near zero. 

“The focus now turns to the September meeting where the expectation is the Fed will provide more forward guidance,” Tapas Strickland,  director of economics at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

“At some point the Fed may also look to increase the rate of bond purchases to offset any increase in issuance on the back of increased fiscal spending and focus will remain on the prospects of the Fed to adopt yield curve control at some point in the future,” Strickland said.

On the economic data front, Japanese retail sales data for June is expected to be out at around 7:50 a.m. HK/SIN.

Meanwhile, South Korean industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics is also set to report its second-quarter earnings on Thursday. The firm said in early July that its second-quarter profits likely rose 23%.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 160.29 points, or 0.6%, to close at 26,539.57. The S&P 500 rose 1.3% to end its trading day at 3,258.44. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.4% to close at 10,542.94.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.453 after earlier slipping from levels above 93.6.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.02 per dollar following its strengthening earlier in the trading week from levels above 105.3 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.718 after rising from levels below $0.712 this week.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • Japan: Retail sales data for June at 7:50 a.m. HK/SIN
  • South Korea: Samsung Electronics second quarter earnings

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U.S. Federal Reserve in focus

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