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Friday, February 3, 2023

Asian stocks, currencies climb on Wall Street rally, weak dollar

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BENGALURU: Shares and currencies of emerging markets rose on Wednesday, taking cues from strong U.S. corporate earnings, while a retreat in the U.S. dollar and anticipated resumption of Russian gas supply to Europe provided some respite from recession fears.

Equities in Indonesia climbed 1.8% and were set for their best day in nearly two months, followed by Singapore stocks, which advanced 1.1% to mark their biggest intraday percentage jump in two months.

Stocks in India and Malaysia also rose. U.S. stocks bounced back sharply on Tuesday as more companies joined big banks in reporting earnings that beat forecasts.

That offered some respite to investors worried about soaring inflation and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s rate hikes denting the corporate bottom line.

Investors had reacted positively to corporate earnings and were encouraged to invest in riskier assets, said Jun Rong Yeap, markets strategist at IG, adding that the market had shrugged off the cautious take by companies on the economic outlook.

Some Asian currencies regained footing as the dollar continued its descent after markets priced in a higher likelihood of a larger rate hike by the European Central Bank (ECB) on Thursday.

The South Korean won rose 0.1%, while both the Singapore dollar and the Malaysian ringgit were trading slightly firmer.

The Philippines peso and the Thai baht bucked the trend to fall 0.2% each.

Positive sentiment was also aided by news that Russian gas supply to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was seen restarting on time on Thursday after a scheduled maintenance, easing concerns about gas supply to Europe.

However, analysts at Mizuho point out that “Europe’s preparation to cut gas consumption speaks of perils facing the Euro, especially as Russian gas flows even on resumption may still face likely caps”.

“So it has been a risk positive night, but recession fears certainly haven’t gone away and the rebound in equities over the past week could as much reflect a recovery from over-sold levels and extreme levels of pessimism,” NAB analyst said in a note.

A Reuters report suggested that the ECB could hike rates by 50 basis points at their meeting. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) and Bank Indonesia (BI), which will also meet on Thursday, are expected to stand pat on interest rates.

However, calls for BI to hike rates by 25 basis points grew louder in a bid to shore up the rupiah.

“As regional inflation rises and the window to tighten appears to narrow due to growth risks, Asian central banks are likely to feel compelled to increase the pace of tightening in what seems like a relatively short hiking cycle,” analysts at DBS noted.


** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields rise ahead of BI meeting, by 7.6 basis points for a fourth consecutive session to 7.492%

** China kept its benchmark lending rates for corporate and household loans unchanged – Reuters


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