Asian stocks mixed and European futures flat on rate hike worries

REUTERS | Published: August 12, 2022 12:19:31 | Updated: September 05, 2022 18:47:28

A man wearing a protective mask, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, walks past an electronic board displaying stock market data outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/

Asian stocks were mixed and the yen fell on Friday, capping off a back-and-forth week that saw investors split on how aggressively the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates to tackle inflation.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.1 per cent, and Australia's AXJO was down 0.72 per cent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.35 per cent, but Chinese blue-chip stocks fell 0.1 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei was the major outlier, surging 2.43 per cent to its highest level since January as markets reopened following a national holiday.

The yen fell 1.14 per cent and was trading at 133.245per dollar.

European stock futures gave little indication of major moves for the day ahead. FTSE 100 futures were down 0.01 per cent, with Britain set to report second-quarter gross domestic product later in the day, while Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 0.03 per cent.

Markets were tentative early this week ahead of key economic data out of the United States. The consumer price index (CPI) report on Wednesday showed inflation was slightly lower than expected in July, while the producer price index (PPI) unexpectedlyfell for the first time since April 2020.

The slight easing of inflation readings had driven global stocks higher and capped a rising dollar , until a string of Fed speakers put paid to expectations of the central bank going slow on further policy tightening.

"The Fed is going to do what they said, which is whatever it takes to address inflation, so you are seeing some repositioning around that out of US equities," said Carlos Casanova, senior economist at UBP.

The S&P 500 closed down 0.07 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.58 per cent overnight, though the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.08 per cent.

San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank president Mary Daly said on Thursday that while a 50 basis point rate hike next month "makes sense" given economic data, she'd be open to a bigger hike if necessary. The rate is currently in the 2.25 per cent-2.5 per cent range.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said he believed the Fed would likely need to lift its policy rate to 3.25 per cent-3.5 per cent this year and to 3.75 per cent-4 per cent by the end of next year, in line with what Fed Chair Jerome Powell signalled after the Fed's latest meeting in July.

Furthermore, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said he hadn't "seen anything that changes" the need to raise the Fed's policy rate to 3.9 per cent by year-end and to 4.4 per cent by the end of 2023.

Chewing over those comments, investors are still unsure how set the Fed is.

Odds of a 75 bps hike in September were as high as 68 per cent earlier in the week, but are now around 34 per cent, where they were a week ago.

"There are too many uncertainties to know the path of oil and other CPI prices ahead, but the peak of inflation is clearly behind us," Nikko Asset Management chief global strategist John Vail wrote in a note.

"The key question is how far and how fast it will fall. We believe inflation will be quite sticky and central banks will need to be more hawkish than consensus."

US 10-year Treasury yields held firm after rising overnight and were last trading at 2.8765 per cent. The yield plummeted on Wednesday's CPI data but rebounded to a near three-week high on Thursday.

In commodities, Brent crude oil futures fell 54 cents to $98.06 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude was also down, dropping 55 cents to $93.79.

Brent is still on track to gain more than 4 per cent this week, while WTI looks likely to mark a weekly climb of 5 per cent.

Bitcoin , the leading cryptocurrency, shaved some overnight gains and lost 1.10 per cent to trade at $23,943.

Spot gold was up 0.11 per cent at $1,791 an ounce.

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