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Fed’s Jerome Powell hints at 50 basis point hike for May

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific fell in Friday morning trade as investors watch for market reaction to overnight remarks from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

The Nikkei 225Japan was the worst performing country in Asia, with a decline of 1.71% for shares of conglomerates SoftBank GroupThe index fell more than 2 percent. Topix lost 1.31%. South Korea KospiThe exchange rate was 1.1% higher

Australian stocks declined also as a result. S&P/ASX 200The decline was 0.97%

MSCI’s Asia-Pacific broadest index outside Japan was 0.51% less.

Fed Watch

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Powell stated that 50 basis points would be available for May’s meeting. These comments led to expectations of a move by 50 basis points for May rising to 97.6% according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool.

The comments by Powell also caused U.S. Treasury yields to rise. At 2.9328%, the yield of the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond, which was close to 1.5% at the beginning of the year, stood last week.

Stocks on Wall Street fell overnight stateside, with the S&P 500 slipping about 1.48% to 4,393.66. Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 368.03 point, or 1.05%. It was at 34,792.76. Technology-rich Nasdaq Composite was also affected, falling 2.07% at 13,174.65

Currencies, oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 100.619 — once again above the 100 level that it fell below briefly earlier this week.

The Japanese yenStill weaker than levels above 126, the dollar was traded at 128.47. The Australian dollarIt was 0.7359, a decrease of $0.744.

The morning Asia trading hour saw oil prices rise, with benchmarks internationally. Brent crude futuresUp to 0.32% to $108.68 a barrel U.S. crude futuresThe price of a barrel rose by 0.29% to $104.09

— CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

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