After sharp losses a day earlier, Asian shares rallied on Friday. European equities were also set for a firmer open, with pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures up 1.08%, German DAX futures up 0.93%, and FTSE futures gaining 0.98%. In afternoon trade, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up around 1.8% from Thursday’s 22-month closing low, trimming its losses for the week to less than 3%.
As investors digested worries about higher inflation and tightening central bank policies, Asian stocks recovered on Friday, but were headed for a second consecutive weekly loss and lingered near June 2020 lows, while the dollar hung near 20-year highs. On Thursday, those concerns overtook hopes on Wall Street that soaring inflation was nearing a peak, driving the S&P 500 close to confirming a bear market, about 20% below its January all-time high. In a later interview, US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged the fight to keep inflation under control would “require some pain.” He also stated that “we’re prepared to do more” if the Fed raises interest rates by half a percentage point at each of its next two policy meetings.
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Australian shares gained 1.93%, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index jumped 2.64%. In China, the blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.61% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 2.22%. “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 U.S. Treasuries, with the benchmark U.S. 10-year yield edging up to 2.8895% from a close of 2.817% on Thursday. The policy-sensitive 2-year yield was at 2.5924%, up from a close of 2.522%. “Within the shape of the U.S. 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 U.S. dollar remained near 20-year highs against a basket of currencies, supported by safe-haven demand as Russia bristled over Finland’s plan to apply for NATO membership, with Sweden potentially following suit.
Moscow called Finland’s announcement hostile and threatened retaliation, including unspecified “military-technical” measures. The dollar index, which tracks it against a group of currencies of other major trading partners, edged down about 0.1% to 104.65. But the greenback was stronger against the yen , which traded at 128.62 per dollar after hitting a two-week peak of 127.5 hits overnight.
The European single currency was 0.1% firmer at $1.0389 after trading lower earlier in the day. Cryptocurrency bitcoin also turned higher, cracking through $30,000 after the collapse of TerraUSD, a so-called stablecoin, drove it to a 16-month low of around $25,400 on Thursday.
In commodities markets, oil prices were higher against the backdrop of a pending European Union ban on Russian oil, but were still set for their first weekly loss in three weeks, hit by concerns over inflation and China’s COVID lockdowns slowing global growth. U.S. crude ticked up 1.32% to $107.53 a barrel, and global benchmark Brent crude was up 1.6% at $109.17 per barrel. Spot gold, which had been driven to a three-month low by the soaring dollar, was up 0.16 % at $1,824.61 per ounce.
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