Asia stocks up before Powell speech, China tech adds support

Asia stocks up before Powell speech, China tech adds support

Traders will be poring over a speech by Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell at a closely watched symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Traders will be poring over a speech by Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell at a closely watched symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Photo: Patrick T. FALLON / AFP
Source: AFP

Asian markets rose Friday after a Wall Street rally ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell that is expected to reiterate his plan to ramp up interest rates to fight inflation.

Adding to the strong buying sentiment were signs of progress in talks between US and Chinese regulators that could see tech titans including Alibaba and JD.com avoid a delisting from New York.

Global equities have staggered in recent weeks after a near two-month rally from their June lows as a string of Fed officials lined up to reaffirm their commitment to tighten monetary policy, despite some promising economic data.

All eyes are now on Powell's remarks later Friday at the annual symposium of top bankers and finance chiefs at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Most expect him to confirm that more hikes are on the way as officials try to bring inflation down from painful highs not seen in four decades.

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Analysts said that while a number of board members have lined up this week, the hawkish tilt has largely been baked into market prices.

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The key issue now is by how much the bank will tighten over the coming months, with expectations for a half-point lift in next month, after two three-quarter moves in June and July.

Wall Street's three main indexes ended well up Thursday, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 more than one percent to the good.

And Asia followed the lead, with Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Wellington all well up.

US-China tech boost

Hong Kong and Shanghai were among the best performers with a surge in tech companies thanks to news that China-US regulatory talks were progressing.

More than 200 Chinese firms have for months had the threat of New York delisting hanging over them as they are caught in a wide-ranging row between the superpowers.

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But reports said Thursday that Beijing had called on top accounting firms to prepare to bring US-listed companies' audit papers to Hong Kong, to be reviewed by US officials.

US lawmakers set a 2024 deadline for the removal of businesses that do not comply with listing rules and the latest move could provide a big step in avoiding that.

"To see that both sides are communicating, it is a good thing," said Daisy Li, at EFG Asset Management.

"Still, we will need to see if the US side is actually willing to accept the disclosure. If this can be resolved, it could help lower some (of the) China market's geopolitical risk premium."

The reports came as China announced plans to boost its flagging economy by pumping in tens of billions of dollars to kickstart lending, consumption and investment.

However, analysts have warned that while the cash injection will be welcomed, investors were more keen to see an easing of the zero-Covid policies that have led to the lockdown of major cities and battered industries.

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Key figures at around 0230 GMT

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.9 percent at 28,745.42 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.7 percent at 20,100.06

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 3,260.75

Euro/dollar: UP at 0.9970 from 0.9968 Thursday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.1823 from $1.1826

Euro/pound: UP at 84.33 pence from 84.28 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 136.76 yen from 136.36 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.0 percent at $93.41 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.0 percent at $100.34

New York - Dow: UP nearly 1.0 percent at 33,291.78 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,479.74 (close)

Source: AFP

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