Times of Eswatini

Markets track Wall St rally ahead of US inflation data


- Most Asian equities rose yesterday, tracking big gains on Wall Street as investors gear up for the release of crucial US inflation data later in the day, though analysts warned the optimism might be overdone.

After a bright January, traders have endured a shaky couple of weeks as they contemplat­e the prospect of more Federal Reserve interest rate hikes aimed at cooling a still-robust economy.

The main blow came from a blockbuste­r jobs report earlier in the month that led several central bank officials to insist they will keep tightening monetary policy until they have brought prices under control.

The consumer price index is forecast to have dipped to 6.2 per cent last month from 6.5 per cent in December, according to Bloomberg.

But that is still well above the Fed’s target of two per cent, and analysts said a higher read on the CPI could spark a hefty sell-off on markets, with traders already worried the United States could tip into recession.

“I would expect to see a little more apprehensi­on, even anxiety, in the run-up to the release after the jobs report left investors on edge,” said OANDA’s Craig Erlam.

“In an ideal world, slack would be gradually appearing in the labour market as inflation steadily fell to two percent, allowing the Fed to take its foot off the break. As soon as one of these isn’t playing ball, the other has to up its game.”

A slight setback could be a major blow and leave at least two more hikes, maybe more, on the cards.”

In early trade, Tokyo rose along with Shanghai, Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Wellington, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta.Hong Kong was dragged down by another drop in Chinese tech firms.

The broad gains followed a strong lead from Wall Street, where all three main indexes closed more than one percent higher.However, strategist­s at Morgan Stanley warned equities could suffer sharp losses this year.


“While the recent move higher in front-end rates is supportive of the notion that the Fed may remain restrictiv­e for longer than appreciate­d, the equity market is refusing to accept this reality,” the group, led by Michael Wilson, wrote in a note.

They saw the S P 500 suffering a rollercoas­ter ride before ending the year almost five per cent below Friday’s close.

“The risk-reward is as poor as it’s been at any time during this bear market,” Wilson said. “The reality for equities is that monetary policy remains in restrictiv­e territory in the context of an earnings recession that has now begun in earnest.”

The en, meanwhile, ticked up slightly against the Dollar yesterday as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida nominated respected economics professor Kazuo Ueda to take the helm at the Bank of Japan.

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