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Asian stocks slump to 11-month lows as higher-for-longer rate fears persist

Asian stocks slump to 11-month lows as higher-for-longer rate fears persist
A staff of FSO Safer oil tanker inspects the vessel moored in the Red Sea, off the coast of the western Hodeidah province, Yemen, 12 June 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE/YAHYA ARHAB)

Asian stocks slid to 11-month lows on Wednesday, U.S. futures dropped and the dollar surged as Treasury yields spiked back toward peaks on fears that U.S. interest rates will stay high.

A rebound in U.S. home sales was the latest trigger for concern in the bond market. Corporate earnings have also been mixed. Alphabet shares logged their worst session since March 2020 overnight, dropping 9.5% as investors were disappointed with stalling growth in its cloud division.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1%. Japan’s Nikkei .N225 fell 2%. Alphabet shares slid another 2% after hours and pulled Nasdaq futures down by nearly 1%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield, a bedrock for pricing risk-taking across financial markets, jumped 11 basis points overnight and traded at 4.96% on Thursday.

“There is no anchor in U.S. treasuries,” said Ben Luk, Senior Multi Asset Strategist at State Street Global Markets.

“If (the 10-year yield) doesn’t stay below 5%, then I think it’s still going to be a very choppy market for both the U.S. and Asia,” he said.

“Once you have a more stable treasury environment, you will have a clearer earnings revision story,” he added, noting markets dominated by tech firms, which rely heavily on financing, will be vulnerable to higher rates due to borrowing costs.

Shares in Facebook parent Meta fell 4% on Wednesday and another 3% in after-hours trade after publishing results showing better-than-expected revenue but a cloudy outlook, with expenses seen topping Wall Street estimates.

Australian shares fell to a one-year low, as stronger-than-expected third-quarter inflation data raised bets that the central bank might raise rates next month.

The S&P/ASX 200 index retreated 0.7% to 6,854.20 in early trade, hitting its lowest level since 31 October 2022.

In the currency markets, the dollar index =USD hit a two-week high of 106.77.

The yen weakened past 150 per dollar, a level that has put traders on guard for intervention to support the Japanese currency. By 0300 GMT the yen was trading at a one-year low of 150.43 per dollar.

The Australian dollar fell to an almost one-year low of $0.6271 in morning trade. The head of Australia’s central bank on Thursday said the strong third-quarter inflation report was around policymakers’ expectations, and they were still considering whether it would warrant a rate rise.

The New Zealand dollar also hit a nearly one-year low at $0.5776.

In China, markets’ bounce on news that China would issue a trillion yuan ($137 -billion) in sovereign debt was quickly fading away, with mainland .SSEC and Hong Kong indexes winding back gains. The Hang Seng fell 0.8%.

Oil prices slipped. U.S. crude dipped 0.15% to $85.26 a barrel. Brent crude fell to $90.05 per barrel.

Oil prices rose about 2% on Wednesday on worries about the conflict in the Middle East, but gains were capped by higher U.S. crude inventories and gloomy economic prospects in Europe.

Gold was slightly higher. Spot gold was traded at $1983.015 per ounce.

South Korea’s economy fared better than expected in the third quarter with the expansion underpinned by exports, backing the case for the central bank to keep rates on hold for the months ahead.

The won fell sharply, in line with the dollar’s broad gains.


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