TOKYO (AP) — European and Asian stocks fell Thursday after the new head of the Federal Reserve suggested U.S. interest rates could rise sooner than financial markets were anticipating. Wall Street, however, recovered from the previous day's losses.
At a press conference, Janet Yellen implied that the Fed's time frame for raising interest rates was closer to the first half of 2015, sooner than many had expected. The Fed also voted to cut its monthly bond purchases from $65 billion to $55 billion as part of its ongoing winding down of the extraordinary monetary stimulus.
Hiromichi Tamura, chief strategist at Nomura Securities Co. in Tokyo, said higher U.S. interest rates were expected to come eventually, but there was "a surprise element" in Yellen's remarks.
Germany's DAX lost 0.4 percent to 9,243.73 and France's CAC 40 inched down 0.1 percent to 4,304.62. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.6 percent to 6,531.47.
In the U.S., the Dow was up 0.4 percent at 16,282 and the S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent to 1,866.54.
Sentiment was supported by new economic figures showing the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 5,000 last week to 320,000, close to pre-recession levels.
The dollar, which on Wednesday had its biggest one-day gain since August because of the higher interest rate talk, edged higher still. The euro slipped 0.4 percent against the U.S. currency, to $1.3775. The dollar rose 0.1 percent against the Japanese yen, to 102.43 yen.
Earlier, in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.7 percent to 14,224.23 and South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.9 percent to 1,919.52.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng sank 1.8 percent to 21,182.16. Shares also fell in Taiwan, Australia, India and Southeast Asia.
Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 15 cents to $100.22 a barrel in electronic trading on New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 67 cents to $100.37 on Wednesday. Most trading has moved to the May contract, which was up down 33 cents at $98.84 a barrel.
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