Global stocks mostly higher, oil halts gains

A man walks past an electronic stock board at a securities firm in Tokyo on March 18, 2016.

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

SEOUL, South Korea - Global stocks mostly advanced on Friday after the Federal Reserve's decision on slowing the pace of rate hikes underpinned sentiment, boosting prices for oil and other commodities. But shares in Tokyo fell as the yen's strength worried investors.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 6,213.77 and Germany's DAX was up less than 0.1 percent at 9,894.80. France's CAC 40 added 0.2 percent to 4,450.83.

Wall Street was set to start moderately higher: Both Dow and S&P futures gained 0.3 percent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.3 percent to 16,724.81 while South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 1,992.12. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.8 percent to 20,671.63. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China rose 1.7 percent to 2,955.15 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 5,183.10. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia were higher.

"A lot of the worries on the worry list from early this year have faded," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney, Australia, said in a daily commentary. Oliver cited the stabilization of the Chinese renminbi, the halt in the U.S. dollar's rise, eased fears about a U.S. recession and higher crude oil and commodity prices.

The stronger yen added to selling pressure in Tokyo, given concerns over the likely impact on profits of major exporters. Toyota Motor Corp.'s shares fell 2.3 percent, Nissan Motor Corp. was down 1.8 percent and robot maker Fanuc Corp. lost 1.2 percent.

The Federal Reserve's decision on Wednesday for a more gradual pace of rate increases weakened the U.S. dollar, which in turned pushed up demand for commodity products that are traded in dollar terms. "The fact that we have seen one of the biggest two-day sell-offs in the U.S. dollar in the last seven years is the focal point for markets," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia, said.

Benchmark U.S. crude shed 21 cents to $39.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.74, or 4.5 percent to finish at $40.20 per barrel on Thursday, closing above $40 a barrel for the first time since early December. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, fell 17 cents to $41.36 per barrel in London. Oil prices crossed a threshold of $40 per barrel earlier in the day, higher than they were at the end of 2015, but still far lower they have been for most of the last decade.

The dollar extended losses that began with the Federal Reserve's decision to slow the pace of its rate increases while the yen gathered strength as investors sought safe haven assets. The dollar rose to 111.32 yen from 111.30 yen. The euro fell slightly, to $1.1276 from $1.1319.