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Asian stocks brace for salvo of central bank hikes

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SYDNEY — Share markets idled in Asia on Monday as investors braced for a week littered with 13 central bank meetings that are certain to see borrowing costs rise across the globe and some risk of a super-sized hike in the United States.

Markets are already fully priced for a rise of 75 basis points from the Federal Reserve, with futures showing an 18% chance of a full percentage point.

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They also show a 50-50 chance rates could soar as high as 5.0-5.25% as the Fed is forced to tip the economy into recession to subdued inflation.

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“How high will the funds rate ultimately need to go?” said Jan Hatzius, chief economist Goldman Sachs.

“Our answer is high enough to generate a tightening in financial conditions that imposes a drag on activity sufficient to maintain a solidly below-potential growth trajectory.”

He expects the Fed to hike by 75 basis points on Wednesday, followed by two half-point moves in November and December.

Also important will be Fed members “dot plot” forecasts for rates which are likely to be hawkish, putting the funds rate at 4-4.25% by the end of this year, and even higher next year.

That risk saw two-year Treasury yields surge 30 basis points last week alone to reach the highest since 2007 at 3.92%, so making stocks look more expensive in comparison and dragging the S&P 500 down almost 5% for the week.

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Early Monday, holidays in Japan and the UK made for a slow start and S&P 500 futures were up 0.1%, while Nasdaq futures were flat.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.1%, after losing almost 3% last week.

Japan’s Nikkei was shut, but futures implied an index of 27,335 compared to Friday’s close of 27,567.


BofA’s latest fund manager survey suggests allocations to global stocks are at an all-time low.

“But with both U.S. yields and the unemployment rate headed to 4-5%, poor sentiment isn’t enough to keep the S&P from making new lows for the year,” warned BofA analysts in a note.

“Our suite of 38 proprietary growth indicators depict a grim outlook for global growth, yet we are staring at one of the most aggressive tightening episodes in history, with 85% of the global central banks in tightening mode.”

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Most of the banks meeting this week – from Switzerland to South Africa – are expected to hike, with markets split on whether the Bank of England will go by 50 or 75 basis points.

“The latest retail sales data in the UK supports our view that the economy is already in recession,” said Jonathan Petersen, a senior market economist at Capital Economics.

“So, despite sterling hitting a fresh multi-decade low against the dollar this week, the relative strength of the U.S. economy suggests to us the pound will remain under pressure.”

Sterling was stuck at $1.1436 having hit a 37-year trough of $1.1351 last week,

The odd man out is the Bank of Japan which has so far shown no sign of abandoning its uber-easy yield curve policy despite the drastic slide in the yen.

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The dollar was steady at 142.78 yen on Monday, having backed away from the recent 24-year peak of 144.99 in the face of increasingly strident intervention warnings from Japanese policymakers.

The euro was holding at $1.1021, having edged up from its recent low of $0.9865 thanks to increasingly hawkish comments from the European Central Bank.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was steady at 109.60, just off a two-decade high of 110.79 touched earlier this month.

The ascent of the dollar and yields has been a drag for gold, which was hovering at $1,678 an ounce after hitting lows not seen since April 2020 last week.

Oil prices were trying to bounce on Monday, having shed around 20% so far this quarter amid concerns about demand as global growth slows.

Brent was up 60 cents at $91.95, while U.S. crude rose 55 cents to $85.66 per barrel.

(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Sam Holmes)



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