Asia shares join global rebound as Fed hike fears ease, China tech boost

The Hang Seng tech index opened 4.5 per cent higher, as first quarter revenues from tech giant Alibaba and Baidu beat forecasts. ― Reuters pic

The Hang Seng tech index opened 4.5 per cent higher, as first quarter revenues from tech giant Alibaba and Baidu beat forecasts. ― Reuters pic

Friday, 27 May 2022 10:59 AM MYT

BEIJING, May 27 ― Asian shares extended overnight global gains thanks to strong results from regional tech firms and US retailers, while investors also took comfort from Federal Reserve minutes showing a pause to its rate hikes is on the cards later this year.

The swing in sentiment left the dollar wallowing at one-month lows, with the euro rising to its highest since April 25.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.5 per cent in early trading, the biggest gain in a week, buoyed by a 1.2 per cent rebound in resources-heavy Australian shares, a 2.8 per cent jump in Hong Kong stocks and a 0.7 per cent rise for blue chips in mainland China.

Japan’s Nikkei advanced 1.0 per cent.

The Hang Seng tech index opened 4.5 per cent higher, as first quarter revenues from tech giant Alibaba and Baidu beat forecasts.

The United States will not block China from growing its economy, but wants it to adhere to international rules, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday in remarks that didn’t come as a surprise to investors and political analysts.

Wall Street closed sharply higher overnight after optimistic retail earnings outlooks and waning concerns about overly aggressive interest rate hikes by the Fed encouraged buyers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.61 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 1.99 per cent, and the Nasdaq Composite 2.68 per cent.

Upbeat guidance from retailers such as Department store operator Macy’s Inc, discount chains Dollar General Corp and Dollar Tree appeared to offset dour warnings from their peers in recent weeks.

“Despite the fact that the five day gains on Wall St now at and above 4 per cent suggests that the meltdown has been snapped, there should be no mistaking that this is but earnings relief; ― and should not prematurely inspire proclamations of a bull market reboot,” said analysts at Mizuho Bank.

Tapas Strickland, a director of economics and markets at NAB, said “equities are sitting in the glow of the FOMC Minutes on Wednesday where it appears markets have interpreted them as opening up the possibility of a Fed pause in Q4 2022, while some note the front loading of hikes may have tightened financial conditions sufficiently.”

The Fed’s minutes of its May meeting released on Wednesday confirmed two more 50-basis point hikes each in June and July, but policymakers also suggested the potential for a pause later in the year.

Still, the lift in equities has not split over to other asset markets with yields broadly steady, Strickland noted.

Today, the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose slightly to 2.7649 per cent compared with its US close of 2.758 per cent yesterday. It had hit a three-year high of 3.2030 per cent earlier this month on fears rapid hikes from the Fed may undermine long-term growth.

The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 2.4879 per cent compared with a US close of 2.488 per cent.

“The fall in US Treasury yields in the meantime has correlated with falls in inflation expectations, which had been above 3 per cent in the 10yr, and are now in the 2.6 per cent area. All in all, a pronounced decompression of stress,” said analysts at ING in a note.

Signs that aggressive Fed action may already be slowing economic growth are also emerging. Data yesterday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week as the labour market remained tight. A separate report confirmed the US economy contracted in the first quarter.

In the currency markets, the US dollar fell 0.2 per cent against a basket of major currencies, further pulling away from its 20-year peaks hit two weeks ago. The euro gained 0.26 per cent against the greenback.

Oil prices eased slightly in early Asian trade after surging to a two-month high in the previous session as investors focused on signs of tight global supply.

US crude dipped 0.15 per cent to US$113.92 (RM499.26) a barrel. Brent crude fell 0.1 per cent to US$117.27 per barrel.

Gold was slightly lower. Spot gold was traded at US$1848.79 per ounce. ― Reuters