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Wednesday December 8th, 2021
International news

Asian markets heading into weekend with gains after healthy run

AFP – Asian traders headed into the weekend cautiously on Friday following a broadly positive week across global equity markets after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen indicated a softer approach to raising US interest rates.

The Dow on Wall Street posted a second-successive record as investors cheered the more dovish tone from the central bank, which has been moving to tighten monetary policy as the world’s top economy continues to pick up.

Those gains provided fresh support to Asia, though the gains were tempered by profit-taking.

Tokyo ended the morning session 0.2 percent higher, Sydney added 0.6 percent and Singapore was 0.4 percent up while Seoul put on 0.3 percent.

Hong Kong, which is at its highest level since mid-2015 following a four-day rally, was marginally higher but barely moved. Shanghai slipped 0.2 percent.

Second-quarter earnings are also in focus with US banking giants JP MorganChase and Wells Fargo due out later in the day, while Netflix and Johnson & Johnson are among those up next week.

"The US profit reporting season looks likely to be a key market driver over the next couple of weeks," said CMC Markets chief markets analyst Ric Spooner in a commentary.

"Another good … season will be very supportive for stock markets and continue the current bias against being too trigger happy in response to potential risk events. However, full valuations mean there’s not a lot of margin for error. Stocks that underperform are likely to be dealt with harshly."

– Dollar outlook ‘negative’ –

On foreign exchanges the dollar held on to most of Thursday’s gains after the previous day’s sharp losses fuelled by Yellen’s statement.

Yellen on Wednesday said the US central bank would keep raising the benchmark lending rate gradually as long as the world’s top economy continued to grow as expected, taking into account inflation remained below its two percent target. But on Thursday she stressed policy decisions could change as new data come in.

Eyes will be on the release of June consumer inflation later Friday, which has taken on more significance in light of Yellen’s remarks, although forecasts suggest it will remain the Fed’s two percent target.

Analysts warned the greenback faced pressure over the long term as global central banks begin to wind in their financial crisis-era stimulus and come into line with the Fed.

Most in view is the European Central Bank, which is mulling tightening measures as the long-troubled eurozone stirs back to life.

“At the moment, there is still a large divergence between the eurozone and the US," according to Milan Cutkovic, market analyst at AxiTrader. "However, the economy of the eurozone has picked up a lot in the last 12 months, while economic growth in the States has slowed down."

He said the single currency could test $1.16, adding: "The outlook for the greenback is turning increasingly negative."

 – Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 20,144.82 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: FLAT at 26,349.28

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,211.58

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1404 from $1.1400 at 2045 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2946 from $1.2942

Dollar/yen: UP at 113.51 yen from 113.24 

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN six cents at $46.02 per barrel

Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN five cents at $48.37

New York – DOW: UP 0.1 percent at 21,553.09 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,413.44 (close)

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