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Asia stocks mixed in early trade as dollar falls: markets wrap

Asia stocks mixed in early trade as dollar falls: markets wrap
Pedestrians reflected in an electronic screen displaying an illustrative chart in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, 15 March 2022. (Photo: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg)

Stocks in Asia were mixed and the dollar weakened as investors digested conflicting corporate earnings and economic data.

An Asia equity gauge pared gains after Hong Kong stocks fell at the open. Japanese shares rose amid optimism about corporate earnings, while Australia’s financial markets are shut for a holiday. 

US equity futures were little changed in Asia after the S&P 500 closed just 0.1% higher on Monday and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 slipped 0.2%. That extended to seven the number of trading days when the two indexes have both moved less than 1%.

A Bloomberg gauge of the dollar dropped for a fourth day, while the yen fell against all its G10 peers. Treasury yields edged lower in Asia trading after those on 10-year notes slid eight basis points on Monday, the biggest one-day decline since March. 

Investors have trimmed bets on US interest-rate hikes, according to futures. Market pricing now indicates the Federal Reserve’s benchmark will peak in June and then end the year below 4.5%.

The small shifts in Fed pricing underscore the lack of direction at the start of a busy week for economic data and corporate earnings. US manufacturing data was weaker than economists forecast and uncertainty over the debt ceiling persisted. Later this week, US GDP data is forecast to reveal slower growth, and the so-called core PCE deflator, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, is expected to show price growth cooled.

“The Fed is going to continue to feel they can be restrictive as long as the economy continues to be this robust,” Shana Sissel, president and CEO of Banrion Capital Management, said on Bloomberg Television. “A lot of hedge funds are positioning because they think rates are going to increase. I’m in that same camp.”

Meanwhile, the CBOE VIX index of equity volatility remained near the 17-month low reached last week, but JPMorgan Chase & Co strategist Marko Kolanovic said that may spell trouble for stock investors as it gives a false sense of calm.

South Korea’s economy grew more than forecast in the first quarter, according to data released on Tuesday, giving the central bank breathing room to assess the impact of policies on growth and inflation.

First Republic Bank plans to cut as much as a quarter of its workforce and shrink its balance sheet after deposits fell more than expected. UBS Group AG shares climbed after takeover target Credit Suisse AG reported outflows that were lower than some analysts predicted. Microsoft, Meta and report later this week.

In commodities, oil gained for the third day and gold was set for the biggest rise in nearly two weeks. BM/DM


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