Asian markets up as traders weigh recovery, eyes on US inflation

12-Aug-2021 Intellasia | AFP | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Asian markets rose tentatively Wednesday as investors assess the impact of the fast-spreading Delta variant and the future of Federal Reserve financial support against expectations that the global economy will eventually recover from the pandemic crisis.

News that Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending bill had finally passed the Senate provided some cheer, though analysts said it would likely be some time before it gets through the House owing to differences among Democrats.

Equities have had a largely positive start to the week after a recent run of pressure caused by profit-taking many markets were sitting around record or multi-year highs and concerns about China’s crackdown on sectors including tech and private tuition.

But the key driver of unease has been the surge in new infections of the Delta Covid mutation, which has forced a number of governments around the world to reimpose lockdowns and other containment measures.

While the new case rates are rising in places with struggling vaccination programmes, spikes in countries with high inoculation rates such as Israel, the United States and Britain are also seeing it spread.

Still, investors remain by and large upbeat that the world economy will eventually ride the disease out, even if it does take the recovery longer than initially hoped.

“There’s clearly more focus and concern on the Delta variant of Covid, but, to this point, markets have appraised that as a manageable risk,” David Donabedian, of CIBC Private Wealth Management, said. “The market is climbing the wall of worry.”

Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney, Wellington and Manila all rose, though Singapore, Seoul and Taipei edged down.

That came after the Dow and S&P 500 ended at new record highs.

Eyes are firmly on the release later in the day of US inflation data, which could have a bearing on the Fed’s decision on when to start tapering the vast bond-buying programme that has been a major pillar of support for global markets since April last year.

Soaring prices in recent months and blockbuster jobs creation in June and July have ramped up pressure on the bank to tighten policy in order to prevent the economy from overheating.

And with several officials indicating their support for a tightening before year’s end, the question now is when not if it will move, leaving observers to suggest an interest rate hike as early as 2022.

Expectations for a further fresh financial boost from Biden’s new infrastructure bill are tepid, despite it enjoying rare bipartisan passage through the Senate on Tuesday.

The programme which includes $550 billion in new spending must now make its way through the House before being signed off by the president.

But the House has signalled it will not pass unless senators also push through a $3.5 trillion package for social spending that includes tax increases a demand Republicans and even some Democrats are unlikely to agree to.

“The big uncertainty is if the partisan budget resolution is chopped down too much, will progressives refuse to hold up all infrastructure legislation,” said OANDA’s Edward Moya.

Key figures around 0230 GMT

Tokyo Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 28,069.28 (break)

Hong Kong Hang Seng Index: UP 0.7 percent at 26,790.83

Shanghai Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,539.46

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.62 yen from 110.58 yen at 2040 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3831 from $1.3840

euro/dollar: UP at $1.1724 from $1.1722

euro/pound: UP at 84.76 pence from 84.67 pence

West Texas Intermediate: FLAT at $68.27 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: FLAT at $70.62 per barrel

New York Dow: UP 0.5 percent at 35,264.67 (close)

London FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,161.04 (close)


Category: FinanceAsia

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