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Picture: 123RF/PITINAN
Picture: 123RF/PITINAN

Sydney — Asian shares slid on Monday after a run of upbeat economic data from the US and globally lessened the risk of recession, but also suggested interest rates would have to rise further and stay up for longer.

Bond markets took a beating in the wake of stunning reports on jobs and services, catching speculators very short of dollars and sending the currency sharply higher.

The dollar extended its rally on the yen to a three-week top of 132.60 on Monday amid reports the Japanese government had offered the job of central bank governor to the current deputy, Masayoshi Amamiya.

Amamiya has been closely involved with the Bank of Japan's current supereasy policies and is considered by markets to be more dovish than some other contenders.

The early gains were later pared to ¥131.80 but still helped the dollar hold firm on a basket of currencies at ¥103.050, having jumped 1.2% on Friday. The euro was huddled at $1.0790 after shedding 1.1% on Friday.

In equity markets, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.9%, with South Korea down 1.0%. Chinese blue chips lost 1.6%.

Japan's Nikkei added 0.7%, encouraged by hopes the BOJ would keep policy easy. Euro Stoxx 50 futures fell 0.6% and FTSE futures 0.3%.

S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures both eased 0.3% as the stellar January payrolls report forced investors to price in the risk of more hikes from the Federal Reserve, and less chance of cuts later in the year.

Too firm

“The employment report changed the landscape of labour markets, increasing the possibility of a soft-landing scenario where the economy avoids a severe contraction while inflation/wage growth continues to moderate,” said analysts at Nomura.

“We believe economic conditions will remain too firm for the Fed to cut rates in 2023.”

Futures are almost fully priced for a quarter point rate rise in March, and likely another in May, leaving the peak at 5.0% from 4.9% ahead of the jobs data.

Likewise, yields on two-year Treasuries were now up at 4.35%, compared to 4.09% before the data, while 10-year yields climbed to 3.55%.

A host of Fed officials are set to speak this week, led by chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday, and the tone could be hawkish. Policymakers from the European Central Bank and the Bank of England will also be making appearances.

Bruce Kasman, head of economic research at JPMorgan, noted recent surveys on manufacturing globally had also shown a bounce in January.

“The data decisively quiet the near-term recession narrative,” wrote Kasman in a note. “It appears that underlying growth momentum did not materially slip through a noisy turn into the new year, and the US expansion remains firmly on its feet.

“Importantly, we see material risk that developed market rates will need to rise well above market estimates of terminal rates for the cycle, even as we expect the Fed to signal a pause next quarter.”

Higher rates, and thus yields, will stretch equity valuations and challenge the market's bullish outlook for assets including commodities.

Gold slid 2% on Friday and was last holding at $1,875 an ounce.

Oil futures steadied on Monday, having lost 3% postpayrolls. Brent edged up 22c to $80.16, while US crude firmed 15c to $73.54 per barrel.


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