Asian stocks off to a slow start, eyeing China stimulus, Powell testimonies | Inquirer Business

Asian stocks off to a slow start, eyeing China stimulus, Powell testimonies

/ 10:04 AM June 19, 2023

SYDNEY  – Asian shares started cautiously on Monday after their best weekly run in five months, as investors looked ahead to China’s rate decision and U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimonies for clues on the rate path ahead.

S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 percent early in Asia while Nasdaq futures firmed 0.3 percent. Cash U.S. Treasuries were untraded owing to the Juneteenth holiday, while futures were up a fraction with little liquidity.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.5 percent, having clinched a fresh three-decade top on Friday, buoyed by the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) decision to leave its ultra-easy policy setting unchanged, which has sent the yen to a 7-month low against the U.S. dollar.


MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.1 percent lower, after hitting a four-month high on Friday and finishing up 3 percent for the week, the best since January.


In China, market hope for more forceful stimulus is growing after the cabinet met on Friday to discuss measures to spur economic growth. Also, the People’s Bank of China is widely expected to cut its benchmark loan prime interest rates on Tuesday, following a similar reduction in medium-term policy loans last week.

China eyes support for consumer, private sectors as growth falters

Morgan Stanley’s chief China economist Robin Xing expects an imminent stimulus package given second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth is tracking at 0 percent, lagging the government’s target of around 5 percent for the year.

“This requires more policy easing to stabilize investment – the key drag to 2Q GDP growth – and prevent weakness from spreading to household sentiment and services,” said Xing.

After a busy central bank week as the stock market cheered the Fed’s decision to skip a rate hike in June, investors are looking to a number of Fed speakers this week, with Powell set to deliver congressional testimonies on Wednesday and Thursday.

Fed leaves rates unchanged, sees two small hikes by end of 2023


“Fed Chair Powell gives House and Senate testimony with focus on whether the July FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting is truly ‘live’, and if the Fed dot plot of two more hikes is a true base case depending on the data or more ‘aspirational’,” said Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy at National Australia Bank.

Markets are pricing in a 70-percent probability of the Fed hiking by a quarter point in July before holding steady for the remainder of the year, though officials have sounded hawkish and the dot plot indicates two more hikes..

The dollar index was little changed against major peers early on Monday, after falling 1.2 percent the previous week, the most in five months.

BOJ keeps ultra-low rates, focus shifts to Ueda’s inflation views

The yen was undermined by a dovish BOJ, touching a seven-month low of 141.90 per dollar, while the hawkish the European Central Bank, which hiked by a quarter point last week, aided the euro to hover close to a five-week top at $1.094.

Oil prices declined early on Monday. U.S. crude futures fell 0.7% to 71.24 per barrel, while Brent crude was down 0.8 percent at $76.98 per barrel.

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Gold prices were flat at $1,956.84 per ounce.

TAGS: Asian stocks, China, stimulus

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