HONG KONG: Asian stocks traded mixed on Wednesday and benchmark US Treasury yields were near multi-year highs, as investors sour on both stocks and bonds amid worries about the impact of higher-for-longer interest rates.
The dollar index further rose after hitting a 10-month high on Tuesday, while the Japanese yen came closer to a key level where Japanese officials are seen as potentially intervening to shore up the currency.
Profits at China’s industrial firms fell 11.7% in the first eight months from a year earlier, official data showed on Wednesday. In Australia, inflation picked up in August, driven by a surge in fuel prices, but the gain was in line with expectations.
A Bank of Thailand rate decision is due later in the day.
Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1%. The index is down 3.7% so far this month. US stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were up 0.13%.
Australian shares were down 0.25%, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index slid 0.47%.
China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was 0.41% higher in early trade. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.8%.
On Tuesday, Wall Street’s major stock indexes followed Asian and European equities lower as investors continued to digest last week’s indication from the Federal Reserve that it would keep rates higher for longer than investors had previously expected.
The Dow posted its biggest one-day percentage drop since March, while all three major averages ended at their lowest closing levels in well over three months.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.14%, the S&P 500 lost 1.47% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.57%.
In currencies, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies of other major trading partners, advanced 0.085% to 106.3, after hitting 106.21 on Tuesday, the highest since Nov 30. The European single currency was down 0.1% on the day at US$1.0564, having lost 2.56% in a month.
The Japanese yen remained weak versus the greenback at 149.06 per dollar. The dollar’s strength against the yen in particular has kept traders on alert for an intervention to prop up the Japanese currency, especially after finance minister Shunichi Suzuki said no options were off the table.
The 150 yen per dollar level is seen by financial markets as a red line that would spur Japanese authorities to act, as they did last year.
“USD/JPY traded in a fairly narrow range overnight and is currently trading just above 149. Higher US Treasury yields and recent dovish comments from Bank of Japan (BOJ) officials have weighed on USD/JPY,” CBA analysts said in a note. “We see a high risk the BOJ intervenes soon to prop up the JPY.”
In treasuries, benchmark 10-year Treasury yields have climbed to 16-year highs in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s hawkish longer-term rate outlook last week. The yield reached 4.5274% on the day, compared with its US close of 4.558% on Tuesday.
The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 5.0603% compared with a US close of 5.077%.
Oil prices settled higher after reaching a two-week low earlier in Tuesday’s session, as investors weighed expectations of tighter supply against demand concerns stemming from an uncertain economic outlook.
US crude ticked up 0.34% to US$90.7 a barrel. Brent crude rose to US$94.26 per barrel.
Gold was slightly higher. Spot gold was traded at US$1901.204 per ounce.