Asian markets unfazed after Yellen hints at rate hikes
By Ese Erheriene and Kosaku Narioka
Nikkei down slightly; Taiwan rebounds after hitting 6-week low
Asian stock indexes were little changed on Wednesday as investors shrugged off comments from Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen about the prospect of higher interest rates.
Regional markets reflected Wall Street with the major U.S. indexes finishing essentially flat overnight.
Japanese stocks were lower ahead of interim dividend payments by many Japanese companies. The first half of the fiscal year ends on Saturday, and shareholders as of Tuesday's close were entitled to those dividends.
The ex-dividend sales had a roughly 130-point impact on the Nikkei on Wednesday, which was recently down 59 points, or 0.3%. Banks, which typically pay relatively rich dividends, were hard hit with the Topix bank subindex down 1.2%. Nikkei futures, which aren't affected by ex-dividend trading, were recently up 0.4%.
The ex-dividend impact overshadowed the weaker yen, which would typically lift stocks.
The dollar has risen to around Yen112.30 from Yen111.55 at the end of Tuesday's equities trading. It was helped by Yellen's comment that the Fed "should be wary of raising rates too gradually," which many market watchers consider to be hawkish. Rob Carnell, head of Asia research at ING, said it was "the strongest signal yet" of a December rate increase.