All eyes remain fixed on the US Federal Reserve and its potential further raising of interest rates


All eyes remain fixed on the US Federal Reserve and its potential further raising of interest rates – Copyright AFP Jim WATSON

Asian markets were mixed Monday following a steep drop on Wall Street in response to a forecast-topping US jobs report that gave the Federal Reserve room to continue hiking interest rates as it struggles to contain surging inflation.

US traders took flight after the closely watched non-farm payroll figures Friday, which showed a slowdown in hiring but still with more new posts created than expected.

That came as more officials suggested the Federal Reserve could continue lifting borrowing costs sharply as they try to rein in inflation.

However, with prices being driven higher by factors ranging from the Ukraine war to China’s lockdown-induced slowdown, there are fears the bank’s measures could deal a blow to the world’s biggest economy.

The jump in inflation has forced finance chiefs around the world to tighten monetary policy, with the European Central Bank indicating it will raise rates in July for the first time in more than a decade.

“The critical issue for markets is whether inflation can be brought under control by central banks without generating a recession,” Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, said in a note. 

“Shares are likely to see continued short-term volatility as central banks continue to tighten to combat high inflation, the war in Ukraine continues and fears of recession remain.”

All three main indexes on Wall Street ended deep in the red, with tech firms taking most of the pain, though Asia fared a little better in early trade.

Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai and Taipei all rose, but there were losses in Sydney, Singapore, Manila and Jakarta.

Oil prices — a key driver of inflation — continued to rise, as a pledge by OPEC and other major producers to boost output fell short of what markets had hoped for. 

The increase came as Saudi Arabia also said it had hiked the official selling price for customers in Asia, while demand expectations rose on the back of the easing of some Covid lockdown measures in China and the start of the US summer driving season.

– Key figures at around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 27,844.26 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 0.8 percent at 21,250.08

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,208.52

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.7 percent at $120.51 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.7 percent at $119.76 per barrel

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0721 from $1.0719 on Thursday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2492 from $1.2488

Euro/pound: UP at 85.83 pence from 85.81 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 130.61 yen from 130.81 yen

New York – Dow: DOWN 1.0 percent to 32,899.7 (close)

London – FTSE 100: Closed for a holiday

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