Asian stock markets ended Thursday in red after the US Federal Reserve indicated it plans to hike interest rates soon to curb inflation.

The US Fed on Wednesday kept its benchmark overnight interest rate unchanged between 0.00% and 0.25%, but signaled a rate hike in March.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said there was plenty of room to raise interest rates without threatening the labor market.

He said the bank intends to increase interest rates at its March meeting and asset purchases are also likely to be halted.

However, he stressed that no discussions have been held on the size of interest rate hikes.

Sales increased and volatility remained high in share markets on the Fed’s hawkish stance, along with news about Chinese authorities weighing up a proposal to dismantle the China Evergrande group to avert a crisis in the real estate sector.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo plummeted by 841.03 points, or 3.11%, to close at 26,170.

The Hang Seng, the benchmark for blue-chip stocks trading on the Hong Kong stock exchange, dropped by 482.90 points, or 1.99%, to 23,807.

China’s Shanghai stock exchange was also in negative territory, slipping by 61.42 points, or 1.78%, to 3,394.

The Indian Sensex benchmark fell by 634.82 points, or 1.10%, to 57,223 points, while the Singapore index was down by 11.54 points, or 0.35%, to 3,260.

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