Asia stocks weaken on the patient approach to rate cuts - Hindustan Times
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Asia stocks weaken on the patient approach to rate cuts

Reuters |
May 23, 2024 07:52 AM IST

GLOBAL-MARKETS/ (WRAPUP 1):GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks weaken on the patient approach to rate cuts

By Rae Wee

Asia stocks weaken on the patient approach to rate cuts
Asia stocks weaken on the patient approach to rate cuts

SINGORE, - Several key Asian share benchmarks fell on Thursday as markets digested the implications of policymakers in major economies preferring to take patient approach to monetary easing amid sticky inflation.

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MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.57%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index was one of the biggest decliners, slumping 0.8%, also hurt by a pullback in some commodity prices.

Geopolitical tensions also kept investors nervous as China's military started two days of "punishment" drills held in five areas around Taiwan just days after new Taiwan President Lai Ching-te took office. But Taiwan's stock market was not too fussed and was last up 0.3%.

More hawkish-than-expected minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting, a hot UK inflation print and a sobering assessment of New Zealand's inflation problems from the country's central bank have caused investors to pare their bets of the pace and scale of global rate cuts expected this year.

"One thing that's interesting from the last 24 hours that can be taken away is still the uncertainty from central banks about policy settings and at what levels interest rates have to be at, and where they need to potentially stay at, in order to tame inflation" said Kyle Rodda, senior financial market analyst at Capital.com.

"That's causing uncertainty from a policy point of view, but it's obviously also causing uncertainty from a market point of view."

U.S. futures meanwhile received an early boost after AI darling Nvidia forecast quarterly revenue above estimates after the bell on Wednesday, which sent its shares jumping 5.9% in extended trade.

S&P 500 futures tacked on 0.3%, while Nasdaq futures gained 0.57% in Asia trade.

Japan's Nikkei rose 0.6%, drawing some support from a weaker yen that touched its lowest level in over three weeks. It was last at 156.85 per dollar.

Sterling and the kiwi held near two-month highs and last bought $1.2721 and $0.6102, respectively.

Data on Wednesday showed inflation in Britain eased less than expected and a key core measure of prices barely dropped, prompting investors to pull bets on a Bank of England rate cut next month.

Earlier that day, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand wrongfooted markets by warning cuts were unlikely until far into 2025 at the conclusion of its policy meeting where it held its cash rate steady as expected.

"There are still 'hard yards' to be done to bring annual CPI inflation down to the 2% target midpoint in a timely and sustainable manner, and thus monetary policy easing remains unlikely this year," said Kelly Eckhold, Westpac chief economist for New Zealand.

"Our baseline view remains that the first 25bp policy easing will occur in February next year, to be followed by a series of gradual 25bp reductions that will eventually lower the OCR to around 3.75% in 2026."

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ran into profit taking and fell 1.5%, after having touched an over nine-month high at the start of the week.

China's blue-chip index eased 0.3%.

Gold dipped 0.25% to $2,372.28 an ounce, away from its record high of $2,449.89 hit on Monday, as the prospect of higher-for-longer U.S. rates took some shine off the yellow metal.

Oil prices likewise fell, with brent crude down 0.82% to $81.23 a barrel, while U.S. crude edged 0.9% lower to $76.87 per barrel.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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