JUST IN: Asian markets mixed as key US inflation data looms

Asian markets mixed as key US inflation data looms

Asian markets mixed as key US data looms

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Markets were mixed as traders keep their eyes on the release of key inflation figures at the end of the week.
: MOHD RASFAN / AFP
Source: AFP

Asian markets were mixed on Monday as investors set their sights on the release of key US inflation data due at the end of the week.

After last week's Federal Reserve projections for interest rates indicated it would cut three times this year, traders are optimistic about the outlook for equities.

However, figures showing the economy remains in rude health are keeping a lid on sentiment and raised concerns that the central might not be able to bring borrowing costs down as quickly as hoped.

Those concerns were echoed by Atlanta Fed chief Raphael Bostic on Friday, when he said he saw inflation remaining sticky and saw just one rate cut this year, instead of the two he had previously foreseen.

Eyes are now on the release of the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, the Fed's preferred gauge of inflation, with traders hoping for a reading that shows price gains slowing further.

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Asian markets struggle as US data dents Fed rate cut optimism

The report follows recent data on consumer and producer prices, which came in higher than forecasts.

Still, Stephen Innes at SPI Asset Management said: “Investors have shifted their focus away from the exact number of rate cuts the Fed will implement this year or the timing thereof.

“What matters more is the clear signal that the trajectory of policy rates is downward, not upward, from here.”

In early trade, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Taipei and Wellington rose, but Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Manila and Jakarta were in the red.

The stuttering start to the week came after the Nasdaq chalked up a record for the third straight day.

There was little reaction to Premier Li Qiang's comments downplaying worries about the 's number two economy and pledges of more support to kickstart growth.

Read also

Asian stocks track Wall St record after Fed keeps rate projection

The remarks come as leaders struggle to reinvigorate growth engines but refuse to unveil any bazooka-like stimulus measures.

“Just saying the risks are not as much as people think is not going to draw investors back,” Vey-Sern Ling at Union Bancaire Privee said.

“China is not just a ‘show me' for investors, it's a ‘show me a lot more than I expect' story.”

On currency markets, the yen strengthened after Japan's top currency official Masata Kanda said he was ready to support the unit against excessive moves.

He said the recent softness “is not in line with fundamentals and is clearly driven by speculation”, adding that “we will take appropriate action against excessive fluctuations, without ruling out any options”.

Key figures around 0230 GMT

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.7 percent at 40,621.24 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 0.5 percent at 16,573.33

Read also

inflation slows to lowest level in almost 2.5 years

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,049.82

/yen: DOWN at 151.13 yen from 151.40 yen on Friday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2615 from $1.2601

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0818 from $1.0812

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.74 pence from 85.77 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6 percent at $81.15 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.6 percent at $85.30 per barrel

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent at 39,475.90 (close)

– FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 7,930.92 (close)

Source: AFP

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