Asian markets retreat further as US data fans rate hike fears

Asian markets retreat further as US data fans rate hike fears

The possibility of another Federal Reserve interest rate hike has dented market optimism
The possibility of another Federal Reserve interest rate hike has dented market optimism. Photo: Anna Moneymaker / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP
Source: AFP

Asian investors took fright Thursday at a forecast-busting reading on the US services sector that revived speculation the Federal Reserve could lift interest rates again, compounding a spike in oil prices that has fanned fresh inflation fears.

Wall Street dived and Treasury yields rose after the release of the Institute of Supply Management figures, which dealt a blow to hopes the US central bank had reached the end of its tightening cycle following a string of recent positive data.

The reading put further upward pressure on the dollar, with the yen particularly in focus as it sat at its weakest point for 10 months -- when Japanese officials intervened in money markets last year to prop it up.

After a rosy couple of weeks, the gloom that has characterised markets for much of the summer has returned as traders contemplate the possibility of more tightening and borrowing costs kept elevated for an extended period to tame inflation.

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Markets mostly drop as oil spike fuels fresh inflation fear

Decision-makers at the Fed have given differing views on the best way forward, with some calling for more hikes and others suggesting rates are high enough.

Boss Jerome Powell has asserted that all decisions will be made based on how the data stacks up over the coming months.

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While the economy and the jobs market have shown continued strength, there is a growing worry on trading floors that more than a year of increases -- and any more should they come -- could tip the United States into recession.

"The ISM services sector report underscores the resilience of the largest portion of the economy," said LPL Financial's Quincy Krosby.

"This is certainly not good news for a data-dependent Fed."

In early Asian trade, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Jakarta and Manila were all well down.

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Stocks down as traders await more China economic support measures

China optimism

"What's good news for the economy is bad news for markets," said SPI Asset Management's Stephen Innes.

"Currently, we are seeing the downside risk associated with positive growth news, especially when paired with investors fretting about the possible persistent inflationary impacts of higher oil prices."

Still, in Hong Kong troubled property firms including Evergrande, Sunac and Country Garden extended the week's gains on lingering optimism that Chinese authorities will unveil more measures to support the beleaguered sector.

Crude dipped but held at its November highs on supply concerns after Russia and Saudi Arabia extended their output cuts to the end of the year, and some commentators have warned they could go back to $100 a barrel.

Rate hike talk has seen the dollar maintain its strength against its peers, and investors are keeping watch on Japan after its top currency official on Wednesday made a verbal intervention, saying authorities were ready to take action when needed.

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Asian markets rise as US jobs data ease rate pressure on Fed

The yen has come under added pressure owing to the Bank of Japan's refusal to move away from its ultra-loose monetary policy, though JP Morgan Chase's head of markets research for the country warned the unit could face further weakness.

"The yen is likely to be one of the weakest currencies even next year," Tohru Sasaki, a former trader at the BoJ said in an interview, according to Bloomberg News.

"I'm not sure how we can get out of this situation," he added.

"Maybe the BoJ needs to hike the policy rate without thinking of the other negative impacts on the economy. But that will cause the unpopularity of the (Prime Minister Fumio) Kishida cabinet, so it's politically difficult."

Key figures around 0230 GMT

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 33,204.82 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.7 percent at 18,312.83

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,147.40

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Markets largely rise as traders prepare for US jobs data

Dollar/yen: UP at 147.69 yen from 147.67 yen on Wednesday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0723 from $1.0727

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2493 from $1.2504

Euro/pound: UP at 85.83 pence from 85.76 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.2 percent at $87.40 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $90.50 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.6 percent at 34,443.19 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,426.14 (close)

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Source: AFP

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