Asian Markets Surge in Response to U.S. Fed Decision
Asian stock markets surged Thursday after the U.S. central bank surprised investors by leaving in place current efforts to stimulate the economy.
Japan's Nikkei index hit an 8-month high, closing 260.82 points, or nearly two percent higher Thursday at 14,766. Other major markets around the region also closed higher.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks closed at record highs after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said there will be no change in the Fed's program to buy $85 billion a month in securities..
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1 percent while the Standard & Poors 500 closed 1.2 percent higher. The NASDAQ index also was up 1 percent.
The program is intended to reduce long-term interest rates, which makes it easier for companies to buy new equipment and for families to buy new homes. Many economists expected officials to reduce that by billions of dollars.
But Bernanke said the economy still needs help because unemployment is still too high.
Assad Denies Link to Chemical Attack, Vows to Give Up Arsenal
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his government will honor an agreement to dispose of its chemical arsenal, but denies his forces launched a gas attack last month said to have killed more than one thousand people near Damascus.
In an interview with ((the U.S. network)) Fox News, Mr. Assad promised to abide by a deal reached by U.S. and Russian envoys aimed at liquidating the chemical stockpiles. He said destruction of the weapons would cost $1 billion and would take about a year.
The interview, aired Wednesday, was conducted in Damascus by a Fox correspondent and former U.S. lawmaker Dennis Kucinich, who is now an analyst for the network.
Mr. Assad also insisted his government is not fighting a civil war. He described the two-year conflict as "a new kind of war" pitting government forces against Islamist fighters from more than 80 countries. He also said "80 to 90 percent of the underground terrorists are al-Qaida and their offshoots."