© Reuters. A man wearing a protective mask, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, walks past an electronic board displaying graphs (top) of Nikkei index outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
By Tom Westbrook
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asia’s stock markets edged lower on Tuesday, the yen hit a 20-year low and bond markets wavered as investors nervously awaited U.S. inflation figures and central bank meetings in Australia, Europe and, next week, in the United States.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote among his Conservative Party’s lawmakers on Monday, but gilts and Treasuries nursed losses from selling that began as talk of a move to replace him gathered steam through London and New York trade.
The rose 9.9 basis points (bps) overnight and hit 3.0580% early in the Asia session. The move has pulled the dollar higher and poured cold water on initial optimism about China’s emergence from COVID lockdowns. [US/]
The dollar added another 0.6% against the yen on Tuesday to touch 132.75, its highest since 2002, as the Bank of Japan is a standout laggard while the rest of the world moves to try and hit inflation hard with interest rate hikes. [FRX/]
Ten-year gilt yields rose as far as 10.2 bps to a seven-year high of 2.256% on Monday. [GBP/]
“The train of thought appears to be that … any path to an earlier (British) election could lead to more fiscal measures out of the UK,” said NatWest Markets strategist John Briggs.
“This in turn has higher inflation risks,” he said, while across the Atlantic “the market feel is one of back to ‘where does this stop'” as the 10-year Treasury yields topped 3%.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.8% as Hong Kong’s market pared back some of Monday’s gains. inched up 0.3%. ()
Beijing is easing COVID curbs and on Monday the Wall Street Journal reported that a cybersecurity probe of ride-hailing giant Didi would end shortly, triggering a wave of short covering across the internet sector.
“Even what ought to have been resounding China relief, driven by easing regulatory risks and COVID restrictions, is set to be paralysed by the risks of liquidity withdrawal and risk re-pricing shocks,” said Mizuho economist Vishnu Varathan.
WAVE OF HIKES?
Later on Tuesday Australia’s central bank meets to set interest rates, with traders sure of a hike of at least 25 basis points (bps).
Markets are pricing about a 3/4 chance of a 40 bp hike that would bring the cash rate to 0.75%, and analysts think a rise of that magnitude could bring the dollar with it.
“A consensus hike of 25 bps would probably see the AUD slip slightly,” said ING’s Asia research head, Rob Carnell.
Fear that a hot U.S. inflation reading on Wednesday will lock in even more Federal Reserve interest rate rises beyond next week’s expected 50 bps hike kept the U.S. dollar on the front foot in the meantime.
The Australian dollar wobbled 0.4% lower to $0.7169 in morning trade against.
The euro was pushed 0.2% lower and below its 50-day moving average to $1.0677, but kept from further losses by nerves about the possibility of a rate hike or hawkish tone from the European Central Bank, which meets on Thursday.
The yen was friendless after Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda stayed dovish on Tuesday, promising support for the economy and easy monetary policy even as prices start to rise.
was firm and futures held at $120 a barrel. [O/R]
The rise in U.S yields weighed on gold, which dipped a fraction to $1,839 an ounce. Investors’ nervous mood also clipped cryptocurrencies and bitcoin was last down about 5%, just below $30,000.