Dollar struggles after Fed retains view for 3 hikes in 2018

Fed officials were split on whether this week's policy meeting was the appropriate time to signal a fourth rate hike in 2018.

Now the Fed holds four press conferences a year, following meetings when they issue their quarterly economic projections.

Interest rates are going up. That's up from an earlier forecast of two, amid expectations of faster economic growth that they forecast will push the unemployment rate to its lowest level in a half-century.

The three biggest H-shares percentage decliners were ZhongAn Online P & C Insurance Co Ltd which fell 4.65 percent, Air China Ltd which lost 3.3 percent and Tencent Holdings Ltd down by 3.1 percent.

Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.8 percent to 6,986 ahead of a Bank of England monetary policy statement, in which it was expected to keep rates on hold.

The Fed now sees the economy growing more quickly, expanding 2.7 percent this year, up from a previous estimate of 2.5 percent.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose to as high as US$65.74 per barrel, not far from its January peak of US$66.66, having gained nearly five percent so far this week.

The price-to-earnings ratio of the Shanghai index was 14.84 as of the last full trading day, while the dividend yield was 2 percent.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "The market will have to get to know Jerome Powell a little bit and will have to test his credibility as Fed chairman", said Brent Schutte, the chief investment strategist for Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ended nearly flat, A 1 percent drop in Chinese and Hong Kong stocks offset gains elsewhere.

"With intensive deleveraging efforts ongoing and a potential uptrend in CPI inflation, we expect China's current monetary policy to continue its tightening bias under Yi's leadership", Wang added.

LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) - The threat of a global trade war and a steady message from the Federal Reserve on USA interest rates pushed the dollar to its lowest in over a month on Thursday and took Europe's main share markets into the red.

The White House said President Donald Trump will announce tariffs on Chinese imports at 12:30 p.m. local time (1630 GMT) on Thursday.

The US central bank also projected three more hikes in 2019.

Fed policymakers will also release their quarterly economic projections after the meeting.

They predicted rates would rise three times next year and two times in 2020, a further indication of confidence in the economy.

US stocks are mixed Wednesday morning as investors wait for news on interest rates from the Fed. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates, as investors expected, and said it could raise rates at a quicker pace next year.

Bond yields - which move inversely to price - fell broadly.

Investors are cautious as they await the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's first meeting under its new chairman, Jerome Powell, and his subsequent news conference.

The move was the latest step away from years of stimulating the world's largest economy in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession. The central bank raised rates modestly three times in 2017 under Powell's predecessor, Janet Yellen, whom he succeeded last month.

  • Wendy Palmer