Most Asian markets fall after strong US data, eyes on inflation

Most Asian markets fall after strong US data, eyes on inflation

Hong Kong stocks were a bright spot for Asia after Chinese inflation data beat forecasts
Hong Kong stocks were a bright spot for Asia after Chinese inflation data beat forecasts. Photo: ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP
Source: AFP

Asian markets mostly fell Monday after a forecast-busting jobs report dampened US interest rate cut hopes, with attention now turning to the release of key inflation data this week.

The selling followed a retreat in all three main indexes on Wall Street, while investors lowered their expectations for how many cuts the Federal Reserve would make this year.

However, analysts said that while the jobs figures were bigger than hoped, they would not likely cause policymakers to hold off lowering borrowing costs as unemployment ticked up to a two-year high.

The reading "didn't necessarily amount to an 'all-clear' signal for the Fed, but there also didn't appear to be anything in it that would derail its plan to cut rates", said Chris Larkin of E*Trade from Morgan Stanley.

And SPI Asset Management's Stephen Innes added that "the US labour market seems to be in a comfortable zone -- not too hot and not too cold".

Read also

China consumer prices rise in February for first time in six months

"Reminiscent of Goldilocks's 'just right' porridge."

Traders are now factoring in three rate cuts this year, compared with six that were pencilled in three months ago.

The latest reading on the consumer price index on Tuesday is now in traders' view.

In early trade, Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Wellington, Taipei and Manila were all in negative territory.

Japanese equities were weighed by a tech sell-off after losses for the sector in New York, while exporters also took a hit from a stronger yen as reports said the country's central bank was considering shifting away from its ultra-loose monetary policy soon.

There was little reaction to news that the economy had narrowly avoided a recession in the first final months of last year.

Hong Kong extended Friday's gains and Shanghai fluctuated following figures showing a bigger-than-forecast jump in Chinese consumer prices last month.

Read also

US hiring beats expectations with solid showing in February

The data provided some much-needed good news for the struggling economy, though observers warned it continued to face headwinds.

"Recovery in domestic demand will only be gradual, as households worry about their income and job prospects amid heightened economic uncertainty while consumer confidence remains low," said Kelvin Lam at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

"Therefore, it is too early to say China has emerged from consumer deflation from just one data point."

Bitcoin fell slightly, having hit a fresh record high above $70,000 for the first time on Friday as demand picks up and traders grow optimistic about the prospect of interest rates coming down this year.

Key figures around 0230 GMT

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.5 percent at 38,704.10 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.9 percent at 16,494.99

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,042.76

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 146.93 yen from 147.06 yen on Friday

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Asian markets join rally after Wall St, European records

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0940 from $1.0942

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2852 from $1.2854

Euro/pound: UP at 85.12 pence from 85.09 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.9 percent at $77.35 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: DOWN 0.8 percent at $81.44 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 38,722.69 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,659.74 (close)

Source: AFP

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