Asian markets mixed as traders steel for more rate hikes

Asian markets mixed as traders steel for more rate hikes

Equity markets have been knocked by Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell's warning that interest rates would continue to rise as policymakers try to tame inflation
Equity markets have been knocked by Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell's warning that interest rates would continue to rise as policymakers try to tame inflation. Photo: MOHD RASFAN / AFP
Source: AFP

Asian markets were mixed Tuesday with confidence at a premium as traders contemplate the prospect of more Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and a possible recession.

Wall Street suffered another day in the red after Friday's capitulation in response to a warning from US central bank boss Jerome Powell that more tightening was needed to bring inflation down from four-decade highs.

Bets on a third successive three-quarter-point increase next month have surged since his comments, which blew a hole in a recent rally across markets from their June lows.

Now there is a growing fear that the Fed's priority of beating inflation at any cost will damage the world's top economy, which is already in a technical recession following two straight quarters of contraction.

"The markets are spooked because they are afraid that the Fed could create a hard landing -- that they'll raise rates into a recession, and that will be really painful for the economy and for corporate profits," Terri Spath, of Zuma Wealth, told Bloomberg Television.

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After Monday's retreat, Asian equities fared a little better, though sentiment remained weak.

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Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Jakarta and Wellington all rose, but Hong Kong, Shanghai and Manila sank.

In light of the sell-off in response to the Powell speech, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said it appeared traders had now accepted the fact that policymakers were focused on fighting price rises.

"People now understand the seriousness of our commitment to getting inflation back down to two percent," he said.

But while central banks around the world commit to lifting rates to fight inflation, a major driver of the gains continues to cause a headache.

A warning from OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia that it could cut output has put fresh upward pressure on the commodity, offsetting concerns about a hit to demand from any economic slowdown.

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Waning optimism about an imminent Iran nuclear deal, fresh unrest in Libya and China's economic travails were adding to the oil market's strength.

"A combination of fresh supply risks from Libya, along with uncertainty over the upcoming OPEC+ meeting, has provided a boost," Warren Patterson, of ING Groep NV, said.

But he added that "fundamentally, the market is in a more comfortable state, and in the absence of a large supply disruption or OPEC+ intervention, it is difficult to see significant upside in the short term".

Key figures at around 0230 GMT

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.0 percent at 28,162.52 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.8 percent at 19,669.45

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,220.96

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $0.9985 from $0.9998 on Monday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.1692 from $1.1703

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.40 pence from 85.42 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 138.59 yen from 138.73 yen

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Stocks wobble before Fed chair speech

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.3 percent at $96.68 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.7 percent at $104.38

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.6 percent at 32,098.99 (close)

London - FTSE 100: Closed for public holiday

Source: AFP

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