Asian markets track higher as investors await US inflation data

Asian markets track higher as investors await US inflation data

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was among the best performers in Asia as traders returned from the long Easter break
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was among the best performers in Asia as traders returned from the long Easter break. Photo: ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP
Source: AFP

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Asian markets mostly rose Tuesday after an Easter break that thinned trading volumes in the region, with focus now turning to the release of US inflation data later in the week.

The consumer and wholesale price reports due follow Friday figures that showed a continued healthy rise in jobs creation, reinforcing expectations of another Federal Reserve interest rate hike next month.

But the jobs report also soothed concerns that the world's top economy was slowing too fast and could be on course for a recession, after last week's sub-par manufacturing and services sector activity numbers.

However, analysts warned that the 236,000 jobs announced Friday could mark the last report to top 200,000 for some time and that it could turn negative within months.

"It does appear the US payrolls have seemingly steadied the ship after the market got a bit out-of-step with, or at least over-extrapolating, an imminent recession from the gloomy... data last week," said SPI Asset Management's Stephen Innes.

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Wall Street provided a broadly positive lead, with all three main indexes recovering from early deep losses. The Dow and S&P 500 chalked up gains though the Nasdaq finished marginally lower.

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Still, most of Asia enjoyed an upbeat morning.

Hong Kong rose more than one percent, as did Tokyo and Sydney. There were also gains in Singapore, Seoul, Wellington, Taipei and Manila, though Shanghai dipped.

Data out of China showed consumer prices rose less than expected in March and factory costs dropped, suggesting there remains some weakness in the world's second-largest economy even as it reopens after the lifting of Covid restrictions.

It does, however, provide the People's Bank of China with room to unveil further growth-boosting measures.

Aside from the US inflation data, investors are also preparing themselves for the start of first-quarter earnings season, with banking titans JPMorgan and Citigroup among those reporting.

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US hiring eases in March as economy shows signs of cooling

The announcements should provide an idea about how big an impact surging inflation and rising interest rates are having on firms' bottom lines.

On currency markets, bets on another Fed rate hike have pushed the dollar higher against its peers in recent days and it has held on to most of those gains this week.

The yen was also weighed down by comments from new central bank boss Kazuo Ueda that a long-standing loose monetary policy remained "appropriate".

"Japan is currently not in a situation where interest rates need to be significantly raised," Ueda told reporters at his first press conference since taking over at the Bank of Japan.

Key figures around 0230 GMT

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.4 percent at 28,013.86 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.3 percent at 20,591.06

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,312.10

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0881 from $1.0865 on Monday

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Asian markets edge up in thin trade ahead of US jobs

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2401 from $1.2384

Euro/pound: UP at 87.74 pence at 87.70 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 133.53 yen from 133.59 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.4 percent at $80.03 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.3 percent at $84.46 per barrel

New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 33,586.52 (close)

London - FTSE 100: Closed for holiday

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Source: AFP

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