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Global Market Update: Asian Stocks Near Two-Year High;;Central Bank Decision In Focus

20 Jun 2024 8:34 am
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Mumbai, 20 Jun (Commoditiescontrol): Asian stocks paused near their two-year highs on Thursday as investors awaited more U.S. policy signals, while sterling remained steady ahead of a Bank of England (BoE) meeting where interest rates are expected to stay unchanged.

In addition to the BoE, investors are closely monitoring central bank decisions from Switzerland and Norway on Thursday to gauge the global interest rates outlook.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was virtually unchanged at 572.97, just below the two-year high of 573.38 it reached on Wednesday, driven by tech stocks. The index is poised for a 4% rise in June.

Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.63%, while Chinese stocks also declined, with the blue-chip index down 0.34%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell by 0.14%. China maintained its benchmark lending rates at the monthly fixing on Thursday, aligning with market expectations despite data indicating an unstable economy. The onshore yuan weakened past 7.26 per dollar for the first time since November.

Sterling held steady at $1.2717 ahead of the BoE policy decision and is down 0.2% in June. Data released on Wednesday showed British inflation returned to its 2% target for the first time in nearly three years in May, though strong underlying price pressures make an interest rate cut unlikely before the election next month. Most economists anticipate the BoE will begin cutting rates in August, but markets estimate only a 30% chance of a rate cut then, with a move more probable in September or November. Markets have priced in 43 basis points of easing from the BoE this year.

The Swiss National Bank is widely expected to reduce its key policy rate by 25 basis points for the second consecutive meeting, while Norway's central bank is likely to maintain its key policy interest rate.

A surge in tech stocks on Tuesday propelled AI chipmaker Nvidia above Microsoft as the world's most valuable company, sparking a global rally in tech shares. U.S. markets were closed on Wednesday, but tech-heavy Nasdaq futures rose 0.25% in early trading on Thursday. The excitement over artificial intelligence has fueled significant gains in technology stocks, with Nvidia leading the pack, boosting U.S. stocks to record highs and positively impacting Asian markets.

Despite the tech rally, market breadth has been poor, with limited participation suggesting the rally may be on a shaky foundation. Investors are looking for new signals on when the Federal Reserve might start its policy easing cycle after the central bank last week projected just one rate cut this year, and policymakers have been cautious this week.

The dollar index, measuring the U.S. unit against six rivals, was stable at 105.23, while the euro remained steady at $1.0746. The Japanese yen languished at 158.05 per dollar, pressured by the wide interest rate differential between Japan and the U.S., and has fallen over 10% against the dollar this year.

In commodities, oil prices were mixed, with Brent steady at $85.08 per barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for June was down 0.18% at $81.42 per barrel.

(By Commoditiescontrol Bureau: 09820130172)


       
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