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Asia stocks set for one-month low; US futures rise: markets wrap

Asia stocks set for one-month low; US futures rise: markets wrap
An SVB Financial Group chart displayed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, US, on Friday, 10 March 2023.

Stocks fell in Asia following declines in US benchmarks as fears of a banking crisis resurfaced. Robust earnings from Microsoft and Alphabet buoyed US futures.

An Asia share gauge headed for its lowest close in a month, with finance stocks among the biggest losers. Iron-ore miners and steelmakers also slipped as iron ore earlier fell below $100 a ton for the first time since December, a signal of a frail recovery for China’s commodities demand.

Sentiment was better in South Korea after battery maker LG Energy Solution posted first-quarter net income that beat analysts’ estimates and Apple-supplier SK Hynix forecast a rebound in the memory-chip sector later this year.

US futures recovered from Tuesday’s losses following better-than-expected earnings from Microsoft and Alphabet after markets closed in New York. The S&P 500 had slid 1.6% on Tuesday and the Nasdaq 100 ended 1.9% lower.

First Republic Bank’s disappointing earnings rekindled fears over the health of the US banking sector. The bank is exploring an asset sale of up to $100-billion of long-dated mortgages and securities as part of a rescue plan, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. 

Treasuries were little changed in Asia after the benchmark 10-year yield fell nine basis points on Tuesday and the policy-sensitive two-year yield dropped 13 basis points. 

Australia’s bonds rallied and the Aussie weakened after a government report showed core inflation slowed in March. New Zealand debt also advanced. 

The dollar steadied after rallying on Tuesday when investors bought the currency as a haven. 

“We expect volatility to continue and the reason for that is that rates will continue to be high,” Ellen Hazen, chief market strategist and lead portfolio manager for FL Putnam Investment Management, said on Bloomberg Television “Secular winners before and after Covid — Microsoft, Alphabet, but also Visa — with strong, dominant market positions. Those companies will be okay”.

Elsewhere, earnings were mixed. UBS Group AG shares slid after results fell short of expectations, while Spotify Technology SA rose 5% after subscriber number surged. McDonald’s was little changed after beating sales estimates, and Danaher dropped 8.8% after lowering full-year guidance.

A lot of the current expectations around earnings are too positive, considering the US still has some way to go to contain inflation, according to Yuting Shao, a macro strategist at State Street Global Markets in Hong Kong.

“We’re just not there yet,” she said on Bloomberg Television. “We really continue to expect more, basically in terms of guidance, to become a little bit more negative and some downgrades coming as well.”

Oil ticked slightly higher amid demand concerns that may drive refineries to cut throughput. Gold was little changed. BM/DM


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