Fed speculation overshadows Asian markets, dollar rallies

GMT 10:57 2015 Wednesday ,11 March

Arab Today, arab today Fed speculation overshadows Asian markets, dollar rallies

Asian markets
Hong Kong - AFP

Most Asian markets fell again Wednesday on increasing expectations the US Federal Reserve will hike interest rates in the summer, while traders were left disappointed by another weak data release from China.
The likelihood of a Fed hike, coupled with the European Central Bank's new bond-buying stimulus programme and fears over Greece, also sent the dollar surging against the yen and closer towards parity with the euro.
Hong Kong slipped 0.75 percent, or 179.01 points, to 23,717.97 but Shanghai enjoyed a late rally to end up 0.15 percent, or 4.83 points, at 3,290.90, with investors hoping for further easing measures.
Sydney lost 0.53 percent, or 31.0 points, to 5,793.2 and Seoul was off 0.20 percent, or 3.94 points, at 1,980.83.
However, Tokyo ended 0.31 percent, or 58.41 points, higher at 18.723,52.
Wall Street provided another negative lead as investors bet on a Fed rate rise sooner rather than later, with some predicting a move in June after Friday's data showed a surge in US jobs creation in February.
The Dow tumbled 1.85 percent, the S&P 500 fell 1.70 percent and the Nasdaq lost 1.67 percent.
The jobs report ramped up dollar buying, which had already been strong owing to a string of upbeat indicators in recent weeks as well as monetary easing in the eurozone and Japan.
In Japanese trade Wednesday, the greenback was at 121.34 yen, compared with 121.07 yen late in New York. At one point Tuesday it broke above 122.00 yen for the first time since late 2007.
Adding to yen weakness has been a raft of poor data out of Japan, which has heaped pressure on the country's central bank to further easing monetary policy.
- Weak China data -
The greenback also surged against the euro after the ECB kicked off its own bond-buying scheme, known as quantitative easing (QE), in a drive to fight off deflation.
Worries about Greece's tense talks due Wednesday over its bailout provisions were also sapping the euro.
The euro bought $1.0653 -- its lowest since June 2003 -- compared with $1.0698 in US trade. The single currency was also at 129.26 yen against 129.53 yen.
"This is not a time to stick your neck out and get too aggressive," Ted Weisberg, president of Seaport Securities Corp. in New York, told Bloomberg TV.
"You have the strong dollar and the very real threat of the Fed raising interest rates sooner, rather than later."
In China, growth in industrial output, retail sales and fixed asset investment all fell to multi-year lows in January-February, according to official data Wednesday, the latest indicators showing the world's number two economy is suffering a severe slowdown.
But mainland investors took the news as a cue for further monetary easing measures following two rate cuts in the past three-and-a-half months.
Beijing combines the two months to ease out distortions caused by the Lunar New Year holiday.
On oil markets, prices rebounded following steep losses in the previous session caused by the surging dollar.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate climbed 46 cents to $48.75 while Brent rose 13 cents to $56.52.
Gold fetched $1,162.40 against $1,162.02 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
-- Taipei shed 0.14 percent, or 13.35 points, to 9,523.18.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co gained 1.39 percent to Tw$146.0 while leading microchip design house MediaTek closed 1.41 percent lower at Tw$453.5.
-- Wellington lost 0.44 percent, or 25.77 points, to 5,861.98.
Air New Zealand was down 1.03 percent at NZ$2.875 and Chorus was unchanged at NZ$2.90.
-- Manila closed 0.48 percent lower, giving up 37.78 points to 7,790.70.
Global Ferronickel Holdings dropped 2.60 percent to 2.62 pesos while Philippine Long Distance Telephone was unchanged at 3,092 pesos.

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