Asian shares ease on prospects for higher U.S. rates

Tue Feb 28 2023
Nikki Bailey (1307 articles)
Asian shares ease on prospects for higher U.S. rates

Asian equities weakened on Tuesday and were set for their worst monthly performance since September as investors adjusted to expectations that U.S. interest rates will stay higher for longer.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) reversed course to trade 0.2% lower at 511.39, pinned near the eight week low it touched on Monday.

The index was set to end the month down about 7%, which would erase almost all of the gains made in January, when share markets had risen on expectations that major central banks were done with hiking rates.
Since then a slew of U.S. economic data has reinforced the view that interest rates will rise further and stay high for longer.

Data on Monday showed U.S. core capital goods orders accelerated in January, beating forecasts, while contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose the most in more than 2-1/2 years in January.

Futures indicated European stocks were set for a subdued start to the day with German DAX futures down 0.05%, FTSE futures down 0.03% and Eurostoxx 50 futures 0.07% lower.
“Investors are now contemplating a scenario of continuing growth and above trend inflation,” said Stephane Monier, chief investment officer at Lombard Odier.

Fed futures now reflect rates peaking at around 5.4%, implying at least three more hikes from the current 4.50% to 4.75% band, and some chance of 50 basis points in March.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) rose 0.01%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index (.AXJO) gained 0.47%.
China shares (.SSEC) fell 0.3% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index (.HSI) was 0.6% lower and was on track to end its three month winning streak as the China reopening rally loses steam.

China shares have also been weighed down by rising geopolitical tension, with uncertainty over U.S.-China relations keeping investors wary.

“Investors are likely to be monitoring any escalation from the Russia-Ukraine war,” ActivTrades market analyst Anderson Alves said. “Any concrete action from China in support of Russia could be seen as a strong rationale for a derisk and deleverage from Asian exposure.”

Investors will get more information on the state of the global economy this week, with U.S. ISM manufacturing and services survey data for February due on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. Preliminary euro zone consumer price inflation data for February is due on Thursday.

In the currency market, sterling was last trading at $1.204, down 0.18%, having jumped 1% overnight after Britain struck a new trade deal with the European Union, brightening the outlook for the post-Brexit UK economy.

The euro was down 0.22% to $1.0585, after rising 0.6% on Monday.

The dollar index , which measures U.S. currency against six other peers, was up 0.172% at 104.83 and was set to snap a four month losing streak.

U.S. crude rose 0.28% to $75.89 per barrel and Brent was at $82.58, up 0.16% on the day.

Elsewhere, Chicago wheat futures were hovering near a 17-month low due to rains in parts of the U.S. winter wheat belt and optimism over a Russia-Ukraine export deal.

Tags China, MSCI, Stock
Nikki Bailey

Nikki Bailey

Nikki Bailey reports on US Stocks. She covers also economy and related aspects. She has been tracking US Stock markets for several years now. She is based in New York