Asian markets follow Wall St lower after Fed bump

20-Mar-2021 Intellasia | AP | 7:02 AM Print This Post

Asian stock markets followed Wall Street lower on Friday after rising US bond yields dampened buying enthusiasm driven by the Federal Reserve’s promise of low interest rates.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney retreated.

Overnight, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closed down 1.5%, putting it on track for its first weekly loss in three weeks. Stocks slipped after bond yields rose, which can prompt investors to shift money out of stocks.

A day earlier, the S&P 500 hit a new high after the Fed promised to keep its key interest rate near zero through 2023 even as it forecast inflation will pick up.

“The rapid rise in long-end US yields has spooked investors,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a report. The sell-off “caught some investors wrong-footed” after the Fed’s pledge, he said.

The Shanghai Composite Index sank 1 percent to 3,426.91 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 1.2 percent to 29,851.37. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong retreated 1.6 percent to 28,950.83.

The Kospi in Seoul shed 0.6 percent to 3,047.81 Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gave up 0.6 percent to 6,705.20.

India’s Sensex opened down 0.2 percent at 49,133.92. New Zealand and Singapore gained while Bangkok and Jakarta retreated.

Also Friday, Japan’s central left its easy monetary policy and goal of 2 percent inflation unchanged but widened the band in which long-term interest rates will be allowed to rise or fall around its target to 0.25 percent from 0.2%.

Investors are swinging between hopes the rollout of coronavirus vaccines will allow global business and travel to resume and fears of possible inflation caused by government stimulus spending and easy credit.

The market’s pullback undercut some of Wednesday’s gains, when the S&P 500 and Dow hit all-time highs after the Federal Reserve said US economic growth should rebound to 6.5 percent this year the strongest since the 1980s and inflation will climb above 2 percent for the first time in years.

Chair Jerome Powell said the Fed will keep rates low even as inflation accelerates. Central banks usually try to restrain price rises by hiking rates. But Fed officials have said the US economy will be allowed to “run hot” to avoid derailing a recovery.

Stocks fell back Thursday after the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note, or the difference between its market price and the payout if held to maturity, widened to 1.72%, its highest since January 2020.

A higher yield can make bonds more attractive, drawing money out of stocks, especially high-priced tech giants that powered last year’s market rebound. Apple shares fell 3.4%, Microsoft lost 2.7 percent and Tesla slumped 6.9%.

The S&P 500 fell to 3,915.46. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5 percent to 32,862.30. The Nasdaq slid 409.03 points to 13,116.17.

Bank stocks did well because investors bet higher interest rates would translate into higher profits. Wells Fargo rose 2.4%, Bank of America added 2.6 percent and JPMorgan Chase gained 1.7%.

Also Thursday, the Labour Department said the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week rose to 770,000, well above historic levels.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude rose 19 cents to $60.25 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the basis for international oil prices, added 22 cents to $63.50 per barrel in London.

The dollar edged down to 108.86 from Thursday’s 109.00. The euro advanced to $1.1919 from $1.1915.


Category: FinanceAsia

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