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Global equity/currency market update: Asia shares rally on Fed cut bets; yen pares gains

6 May 2024 9:18 am
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Mumbai, 6 May (Commoditiescontrol): Asian stocks rose on Monday on renewed bets that the Federal Reserve would likely ease rates this year, while the yen weakened after a strong surge last week from Tokyo's suspected currency intervention.

Trading was thinned in Asia with Japan out for a holiday, though markets in mainland China got off to an upbeat start after returning from an extended break.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged more than 0.5% higher, while China's blue-chip index gained 1.4%.

Chinese shares offshore posted strong gains last week while mainland markets were closed from Wednesday to Friday for the Labour Day holiday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 4.7% last week and on Friday clocked its longest daily winning streak since 2018. It was last down 0.2%. The Nasdaq-listed Golden Dragon China Index jumped 5.5% last week.

Similarly, in currency markets, the offshore yuan was last roughly 0.1% lower at 7.2013 per dollar, after strengthening more than 1% last week, in part due to a broadly weaker dollar.

The People's Bank of China on Monday also lifted its official yuan midpoint to the highest in three weeks, catching up with movements offshore. That sent the onshore yuan to its highest in over a month at 7.2009 per dollar.

The rebound in Chinese markets has come on the back of the country's Politburo meeting, where policymakers said they will step up support for the economy with prudent monetary and proactive fiscal policies.

The broader market rally across Asia meanwhile got an additional boost from Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report, which came in cooler than expected.

That reinforced bets that Fed rate cuts would likely come later this year, after Chair Jerome Powell also maintained the central bank's easing bias last week.

The dollar held broadly steady on Monday, leaving the euro away from a one-month high to last trade at $1.0766, while sterling similarly last bought $1.2551. Trading of cash U.S. Treasuries was closed with the Japan holiday, though futures were little changed.

Elsewhere, traders also remained on alert for any further volatility in the yen, after last week's bouts of suspected intervention from Japanese authorities to stop a sharp slide in the currency.

Tokyo is suspected to have spent more than 9 trillion yen ($59 billion) to support its currency last week, as suggested by data from Bank of Japan, taking the yen from a 34-year low of 160.245 per dollar to a roughly one-month high of 151.86 over the span of a week. The yen gave back some of those gains on Monday and was last 0.4% lower at 153.62 per dollar.

Economic leaders of South Korea, Japan and China had on Friday said heightened foreign exchange market volatility was one of the risk factors that could affect regional growth prospects in the near term.

In commodities, Brent futures rose 0.3% to $83.21 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures similarly edged 0.35% higher to $78.39 per barrel. Gold tacked on 0.2% to $2,307.15 an ounce.

(By Commoditiescontrol Bureau: 09820130172)

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