Asian markets mixed as traders assess latest rally, eye data and earnings

Asian markets mixed as traders assess latest rally, eye data and earnings

Tokyo led Asian markets higher Wednesday thanks to a weaker yen
Tokyo led Asian markets higher Wednesday thanks to a weaker yen. Photo: Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP
Source: AFP

Markets were mixed in Asia on Wednesday following a negative day on Wall Street as observers warn the latest equities rally may have run out of steam, with investors looking for fresh catalysts to kickstart buying.

The tepid performance across the region so far this week comes ahead of key US data releases, including the Federal Reserve's preferred gauge of inflation, and the looming corporate earnings season.

While the central bank last week indicated it would cut interest rates three times this year, some investors fear that recent indicators and comments from decision-makers have put that in doubt.

Figures released Tuesday on February's durable goods sales suggested the world's top economy remained healthy and consumer confidence had picked up, though less so about the future.

Jobless claims and economic growth readings are due over the next few days, before the crucial personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index on Friday.

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While that is expected to show a slight pick-up from January, analysts said that would not likely spook markets too much, though a big miss to the upside could cause concern.

Next month sees the start of earnings releases, which could have a major impact on sentiment, as the recent rally across markets has been partly based on expectations for future profits.

"With market valuations at lofty levels, there's little room for corporate earnings performance to falter or for the Federal Reserve to deviate from its anticipated course of three rate cuts," said Stephen Innes at SPI Asset Management.

"Any divergence from these expectations could potentially lead to market turbulence."

All three main indexes on Wall Street ended in the red, having spent most of the day on the positive side of the line.

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In Asian trade, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Jakarta and Wellington were down, while Sydney, Singapore, Taipei and Manila rose.

Tokyo advanced one percent on the back of a weaker yen that was fuelled by comments from Bank of Japan board member Naoki Tamura saying officials would continue to follow an easy money policy for now.

However, he did say he wanted to gradually lift borrowing costs as the bank moves away from its years-long ultra-loose policy.

Key figures around 0300 GMT

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.0 percent at 40,804.85 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.4 percent at 16,556.31

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,015.31

Dollar/yen: UP at 151.92 yen from 151.53 yen on Tuesday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0826 from $1.0833

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2612 from $1.2628

Euro/pound: UP at 85.84 pence from 85.78 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.9 percent at $80.91 per barrel

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Asian markets struggle as US data dents Fed rate cut optimism

Brent North Sea Crude: DOWN 1.0 percent at $86.41 per barrel

New York - Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 39,282.33 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,930.96 (close)

Source: AFP

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