Asia stocks quiet in holiday-muted trade

BANGKOK (AP) — Japan’s benchmark stock index rose modestly but markets elsewhere in Asia were quiet or closed Friday, two days after the Fed announced it would keep its unprecedented stimulus program in place.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo rose 0.1 percent to 14,778.75 in early trading, still on the upswing after the U.S. Federal Reserve surprised markets Wednesday by not reducing its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases because of worries over the U.S. economic recovery.

Many traders had expected the Fed to start scaling back its asset purchase program, instituted in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis to help keep afloat a recession-mired U.S. economy. The program was used to increase the flow of money available for loans to spur growth, and also push down interest rates.

The low interest rate environment proved a boon for stock markets, where investors fled with their money in search of higher returns. That is a key reason why stock markets rejoiced when the Fed left its “quantitative easing” program untouched earlier this week.

Trading throughout Asia was muted Friday, largely due to public holidays. Markets in Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia were closed.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4 percent to 5,273.30. Benchmarks in Indonesia, New Zealand and Singapore fell, while the PSE Composite index in Manila rose.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was down 28 cents to $106.11 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.68 to close at $106.39 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3537 from $1.3534 late Thursday. The dollar fell to 99.27 yen from 99.37 yen.

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