HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly rose Tuesday after more than a week of losses but traders remained anxious about central banks’ plans to continue hiking interest rates to fight stubborn inflation.
The more positive environment came as concerns over Russia subsided following an aborted uprising, though developments in the nuclear-armed country are being closely followed as President Vladimir Putin faces the biggest test of his rule.
With the events in eastern Europe a little less worrying for now, focus has returned to the battle against surging inflation, which has dogged global markets this year.
Last week’s warning from US Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell that rates would likely need to go higher dealt a blow to hopes that officials were at the end of close to completing their tightening cycle.
While the Fed stood pat this month, his comments came as central banks elsewhere continued to push borrowing costs higher and indicated more were in the pipeline.
The Fed said the decision at the next policy meeting at the end of July will be determined by incoming data, putting focus on upcoming releases, including Friday’s personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, which is the bank’s preferred measure of inflation.
But analysts warned investors faced more pain this year, while there is a growing concern that the tightening could tip economies into recession, as has happened in the eurozone.
“I’m not sure we have felt the full effect of the whole inflation cycle,” Nancy Daoud, at Ameriprise Financial Services, told Bloomberg Television.
“Those rate hikes are very, very likely in July and in early fall.”
In early trade, most Asian markets rose, brushing off losses on Wall Street.
Hong Kong climbed more than 1% after five days of losses, while Shanghai, Sydney, Singapore, Manila and Jakarta also rose.
Tokyo, Seoul, Wellington and Taipei retreated.
Oil rose again though traders remain caught between supply concerns caused by the Russia crisis and demand uncertainty as investors fret over surging interest rates.
And the ruble held losses after weakening to levels not seen since the early months of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, with a wray eye still being kept on developments in Moscow.
Putin on Monday accused Ukraine and its Western allies of wanting Russians to “kill each other” during the revolt by mercenaries from Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner group.
Prigozhin earlier defended the mutiny as a bid to save his fighters and expose the failures of Russia’s military leadership over the Ukraine war – but not to challenge the Kremlin.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said officials were monitoring events “very closely”.
Meanwhile, in a fresh sign of optimism for China-US relations, reports said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen planned to meet her counterpart in Beijing next month.
The talks would come soon after Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to the country, where he spoke to his opposite number and President Xi Jinping. A summit between Xi and President Joe Biden has also been flagged.