https://www.reuters.com-By Andrew Galbraith
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Asian shares inched higher on Friday but were set for a weekly loss, while the U.S. dollar hovered near two-month highs as investors continued to digest comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve projecting interest rate hikes in 2023.
FILE PHOTO: A man looks at stock market monitors in Taipei January 22, 2008. REUTERS/Nicky Loh
While the Fed messaging indicated no clear end to supportive policy measures such as bond-buying, signals of faster-than-expected rate hikes indicated concerns about inflation as the U.S. economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was barely above water in morning trade after four sessions in the red, edging up 0.01%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.53% and Seoul’s KOSPI was up 0.16%. Chinese blue chips swung between gains and losses, and were last down 0.1%
Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.31%.
Gold prices, which plunged following the Fed comments, edged higher but were still set for their worst week since March 2020. Spot gold was last up 0.56% at $1,783.21 per ounce.
“What is pretty obvious is that the inflation genie is starting to sneak out of the bottle, and that will be a major driver of interest rates in the short to medium term,” said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut in Perth.
Adding to indications of a continued rebound in the world’s largest economy, new U.S. data on Thursday showed growing factory activity and easing layoffs, despite an unexpected rise in weekly jobless claims.
Hopes for a strong U.S. recovery pushed technology stocks higher on Thursday, lifting the Nasdaq Composite up 0.87%. But worries about inflation and higher rates weighed on the broader market, with the S&P 500 edging down 0.04%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.62%
“While wage-price dynamics and inflation expectations are sticking to the Fed’s script, if they were to go off script even a bit, policymakers will need to pull forward when they begin and how quickly they normalise monetary policy,” Mark Zandi, an economist with Moody’s Analytics, said in a note. “While this is a tricky balance the Fed must ultimately manage in every business cycle, it is happening much earlier in this one.”
Higher expectations of inflation continued to lift long-dated U.S. Treasury yields. Benchmark 10-year notes yielded 1.5226%, up from a close of 1.511% on Thursday.
The 30-year bond last yielded 2.1105%.
The dollar, which soared to more than two-month highs following the Fed meeting, gave up some ground on Friday. The dollar index was 0.04% lower at 91.843. It was flat against the yen at 110.20, and the euro gained 0.08% to 1.1916%.
The relatively strong dollar hit oil prices after they touched their highest level in years a day earlier, as concerns over demand and new Iranian supply also weighed.
Global benchmark Brent crude was down 0.7% at $72.57 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude shed 0.65% to $70.58.
Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Christopher Cushing
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