Asian stocks are experiencing a significant surge this week, positioning themselves for the most successful week of the year. This remarkable performance is driven by diminishing concerns over U.S. inflation, which has sparked speculation that the Federal Reserve might halt its rate hikes after the current month. As a result, the U.S. dollar has tumbled to a 15-month low against major counterparts, while U.S. Treasury yields remain at multi-week lows, following a substantial weekly decline. Simultaneously, gold is on track to achieve its most outstanding week in three months, benefitting from the weakened dollar, while crude oil prices climb to their highest level in nearly three months.
Easing Inflation Concerns and Implications for Monetary Policy
The likelihood of a quarter-point increase in the Fed funds rate on July 26 is still perceived as highly probable by money market traders. However, their expectations for additional rate hikes this year have diminished to just a 20% probability. This change in sentiment is primarily influenced by the recent data indicating the smallest rise in U.S. factory gate inflation in nearly three years. Moreover, a previous report revealed that consumer price gains have slowed to their weakest pace in over two years, reinforcing the notion of a more moderate inflation outlook.
Tony Sycamore, a market analyst at IG in Sydney, explains the implications of these developments: "What it means is we've got the Fed with its chest pretty much crossing the finish line at the end of the most aggressive tightening cycle in four decades, so it does warrant the rapid repricing that we've seen in many of these asset classes. The equity market absolutely took off, and the dollar is under intense pressure."
Performance of Asian Stocks and Global Markets
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, has rallied by 0.7% on Friday, positioning it for a substantial 5.4% weekly advancement, marking the most significant gain in eight months. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index has gained 0.52%, and mainland Chinese blue chips have added 0.12%. South Korea's Kospi, on the other hand, has surged by 1%. However, Japan's Nikkei is experiencing a different trajectory, with a decline of 0.43% after initially showing gains. The Nikkei is struggling to regain momentum after retreating from a 33-year peak reached earlier this month.
In the United States, E-mini equity futures indicate a 0.16% lower opening for the S&P 500 after the index rallied by 0.85% overnight. Additionally, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the currency against six major peers, has experienced a slight decline of approximately 0.1%, reaching 99.637 for the first time since April of last year. Tony Sycamore of IG suggests, "The dollar index can probably trade down toward 98 over the coming weeks without too many problems. I wouldn't be fighting that trend."
Impact on Treasury Yields and Global Bonds
U.S. two-year Treasury yields, which tend to be highly sensitive to the Federal Reserve's policy outlook, are currently stagnant at 4.63% following a 30 basis point decrease this week, extending the drop from last week's 16-year peak above 5%. Meanwhile, ten-year yields hover around 3.77% after a 28 basis point decline since last Friday, when it reached an eight-month high at 4.094%. In Japan's market, the 10-year yield has risen as high as 0.485%, approaching the Bank of Japan's 0.5% policy ceiling, the closest it has been since March 10. Speculation regarding the BOJ potentially widening its 10-year yield band this month has been increasing, driven by a recent labor report revealing solid wage growth.
Market Reactions and Currency Movements
The Australian government's appointment of deputy governor Michele Bullock to lead the
Reserve Bank of Australia from mid-September had minimal impact on the markets. The Australian dollar remained steady at $0.6891, following two consecutive days of 1.5% gains against the U.S. dollar, propelling it to a one-month high. In the commodities market, gold has reached a new one-month high at $1,963.59, benefiting from the weakened dollar. It has demonstrated an impressive rally of nearly 2% over the course of this week.
Additionally, Brent crude futures have risen by 27 cents, or 0.3%, to $81.63 per barrel on Friday, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures have increased by 35 cents, or 0.5%, to $77.24.
In Summary, Asian stocks are on track for their best week in 2023, driven by a decrease in U.S. inflation concerns, which has generated speculation that the Federal Reserve might pause its rate hikes after this month. As a result, the U.S. dollar has weakened significantly against major peers, and U.S. Treasury yields remain at multi-week lows. These developments have had a positive impact on gold prices, which are poised for their strongest week in three months. Meanwhile, crude oil prices have reached their highest level in nearly three months. The performance of global markets, including Asian stocks and U.S. equities, is reflective of the changing sentiment surrounding the Federal Reserve's monetary policy.