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Asian Stocks Steady as Investors Wait on Fed Rate Signals

Japan’s Nikkei slipped while Hong Kong and China scraped together some gains but there was an air of ‘wait-and-see’ ahead of the US Fed chief’s speech

A market index board is seen outside the Indonesia Stock Exchange in Jakarta. Photo: Reuters.
A market index board is seen outside the Indonesia Stock Exchange in Jakarta. Photo: Reuters.


Asian stock indexes saw a day of little drama on Tuesday as investors kept their powder dry as they wait for signals from the US Fed on the next turn it’s going to take on tightening.

All eyes will be on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at the Economic Club of Washington later on Tuesday when he’ll reveal the key central bank’s feelings on which way the US economy is going.

Traders will be looking for any change in the central bank’s rhetoric, after data last week showed robust job growth, as well as strong services activity in January.


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Japan’s Nikkei index pared gains to inch lower, as investors stayed on the sidelines, while a slew of corporate earnings rendered the market directionless.

The Nikkei share average ended 0.03% lower at 27,685.47, snapping a fourth straight winning session, after trading most of the session in positive territory. The broader Topix rose 0.21% to 1,983.40.

Chinese blue chips inched higher, as some investors bought the dip after a three-session slide amid hopes for a de-escalation in Sino-US tensions.

The White House said it would keep a calm approach to relations with Beijing, after the United States shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon flying over US airspace.

China’s blue-chip CSI 300 Index closed up 0.2%, and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.29%, or 9.40 points, to reach 3,248.09.

The Hang Seng Index gained 0.36%, or 76.54 points, to 21,298.70 and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index advanced 0.6%. The Shenzhen Composite Index on China’s second exchange edged up 0.36%, or 7.71 points, to 2,152.89.

Chinese search engine giant Baidu Inc jumped more than 15% after the company said it would complete internal testing of its ChatGPT-styled project “Ernie Bot” in March before launching it publicly.

Elsewhere across the region, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Jakarta all also enjoyed a leg up. But Indian stocks dropped off with Mumbai’s signature Nifty 50 index down 0.28%, or 50.20 points, at 17,714.40.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.4%, after US stocks ended the previous session with mild losses.


Dow Jones, S&P 500 Slide

In early European trades, the pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures were up 0.17% at 4,218, German DAX futures were up 0.09% at 15,409, FTSE futures were up 0.09% at 7,815. US stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were up 0.13% at 4,128.8.

In the Asian trading session, the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes hit 3.6192% compared with its US close of 3.632% on Monday.

The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 4.4267% compared with a US close of 4.456%.

The repricing of higher rates began after strong US jobs growth in January, with employment rising 517,000, more than double economists’ expectations. The unemployment rate hit 3.4%, the lowest in more than 53 years.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1%, the S&P 500 lost 0.61% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1%.

The dollar eased 0.28% against the yen to 132.28, after touching a three-week high of 132.9 during the US trading session.

US crude ticked up 0.86% to $74.75 a barrel. Brent crude rose to $81.6 per barrel.


Key figures

Tokyo – Nikkei 225 < DOWN 0.03% at 27,685.47 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index > UP 0.36% at 21,298.70 (close)

Shanghai – Composite > UP 0.29% at 3,248.09 (close)

London – FTSE 100 > UP 0.42% at 7,869.36 (0941 GMT)

New York – Dow < DOWN 0.10% at 33,891.02 (close)


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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