Asian Equities Higher after Fed’s ‘Gradual’ Plan

Asian stocks rose for the first time in four days after the Federal Reserve said the pace of U.S. monetary-policy tightening will be gradual, with the central bank preparing to raise interest rates this year.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.4 percent to 146.71 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo. E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed after the underlying gauge added 0.2 percent on Wednesday. The Topix index slipped 0.2 percent as the Bank of Japan starts a two-day policy meeting.

The Fed maintained its forecast for the benchmark rate to rise to 0.625 percent this year, while lowering its projection for 2016. A rebound in job growth is giving officials reason to look beyond a first-quarter economic slowdown as they consider when to tighten policy. At the same time, inflation remains below their target, and central bankers say the timing of a rate increase depends on how economic data unfold.