Thursday, May 19, 2022

Asian shares trim losses, while dollar firms on Powell's rate pain warning

Asian shares trim losses, while dollar firms on Powell's rate pain warning
May 13, 2022 Reuters

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Asian shares found some footing after a volatile session for US equities, but the dollar remained at 20-year highs and global stocks near 18-month lows on worries about persistently high inflation and tightening central banks.

Those worries ultimately overcame hopes on Wall Street that high inflation might be peaking, pushing the S&P 500 close to confirming a bear market on Thursday, at nearly 20% off its January all-time high.

In an interview later in the day, US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that the battle to control inflation would "include some pain". And he repeated his expectation of half-percentage-point interest rate rises at each of the Fed's next two policy meetings, while pledging that "we're prepared to do more". 

But after fears of the impact of central bank tightening led to sharp losses a day earlier, Asian shares bounced early in the trading day.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) was up 1.15%, trimming its losses for the week to around 3.5%.

Australian shares (.AXJO) were up 1.56%, while Japan's Nikkei stock index (.N225) jumped 2.62%.

In China, the blue-chip CSI300 index (.CSI300) was up 0.92% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng (.HSI) rose 1.8%.

"We had some pretty big moves yesterday, and when you see those big moves it's only natural to get some retracement, especially since it's Friday heading into the weekend. There's not really a new narrative that's come through, " said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at City Index.

"I think there comes that point where you run out of sellers. I'm not really certain that this is going to be a buying rally at the moment, possibly a short-covering rally ahead of the weekend."

The moves higher in equities were mirrored in slipping US Treasuries, with the benchmark US 10-year yield edging up to 2.8931% from a close of 2.817% on Thursday.

The policy-sensitive 2-year yield was at 2.6023%, up from a close of 2.522%.

"Within the shape of the US Treasury curve we are not seeing any particularly fresh recession/slowdown signal, just the same consistent marked slowing earmarked for H2 2023," Alan Ruskin, macro strategist at Deutsche Bank, said in a note.

The US dollar nevertheless remained firm near 20-year highs, with the dollar index , which tracks it against a basket of currencies of other major trading partners, at 104.8.

The yen was at 129.02 per dollar, softening from a two-week peak of 127.5 hit overnight. The European single currency edged down a hair to $1.0376.

In commodities markets, oil prices were higher but still set for their first weekly loss in three weeks, hit by concerns over inflation and China's COVID lockdowns slowing global growth.

US crude ticked up 1.34% to $107.55 a barrel, and global benchrmark Brent crude was up 1.51% at $109.07 per barrel.

Spot gold , which has been hit by the soaring dollar, was up 0.15% at $1,824.49 per ounce, not far from a three-month low.