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Asian Markets Rally As Earnings Divert From Inflation Worry

Hong Kong and Taipei put on more than 1% each, while Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Wellington and Manila also saw healthy gains.


Electricity towers are seen near Beijing’s Central Business District on Sept 28, 2021. The power crunch has hit China's economy but property sector news was more positive on Tuesday. Photo: Tingshu Wang, Reuters.

 

Asia’s markets rose on Tuesday, extending a Wall Street rally as optimism over corporate earnings provided some respite from long-running worries about inflation, central bank tightening and signs of a slowing economic recovery.

A string of forecast-beating profit reports from businesses over the past week has provided a much-needed boost to investors, who have for most of the year been waiting nervously for finance chiefs to start winding in the vast cash support put in place at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The positive readings have eased concerns about the impact on companies’ bottom lines from surging inflation, a brewing energy crisis and expectations that the era of cheap money will soon come to an end.

“Thus far we’ve seen companies post some fairly decent beats on the earnings front, and while it’s been notable that most have cited concerns about rising costs, as well as supply chain disruptions, we haven’t seen many significant profit downgrades yet,” CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq on Wall Street ended in positive territory, and Asia followed suit.

Hong Kong and Taipei put on more than 1% each, while Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Wellington and Manila also saw healthy gains. However, Sydney, Bangkok, Mumbai and Jakarta slipped.

London rose in the morning but Paris and Frankfurt dipped slightly. Investors brushed off reports that North Korea had fired an unidentified projectile into the sea.

 

Oil Builds On Gains

While attention is largely on the release of profit reports, traders are also awaiting comments from the US Federal Reserve as it prepares to scale back its vast bond-buying programme with an eye on surging prices.

The bank has already signalled a start to the taper before the end of the year but observers are now pricing in the possibility of an interest rate hike in mid-2022, much earlier than had originally been envisaged.

“The world is watching interest rates more closely than it has for some time,” said Chris Weston at Pepperstone Financial, adding that it was “impressive how resilient and calm markets are in the face of the rates repricing.”

Analysts said Hong Kong was enjoying a break from selling – it has lost more than 5% this year – as China shows signs of slowing its crackdown on private enterprises such as tech firms that are listed in the city.

They added that concerns about China’s growth, which has been stunted by a regulatory drive against the property sector, could also be a factor in leaders stepping back from further measures.

Oil markets built on a recent run-up in prices that has been fuelled by slim supplies and expectations for a surge in demand through the northern hemisphere winter.

A spike in the cost of natural gas has also seen energy providers switch to crude in some cases, adding to upward pressure on the commodity, while OPEC’s decision not to ramp up output has further complicated the issue.

Bitcoin hit a morning peak of $62,961, less than $2,000 short of its April record, before easing, with a new security to invest in the cryptocurrency due to begin trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

 

Key Figures Around 0810 GMT

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.7% at 29,215.52 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 1.5% at 25,787.21 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.7% at 3,593.15 (close)

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.1% at 35,258.61 (close)

 

• AFP with additional editing by Jim Pollard

This report was updated on October 19 to correct an error.

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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