Sep 22, 2023: Most Asian stocks moved in a flat-to-low range on Friday as markets continued to fret over rising interest rates, while Japan’s Nikkei trimmed some early losses after the Bank of Japan offered no changes to its ultra-dovish policy.
Regional markets were still reeling from a more hawkish than expected tone struck by the Federal Reserve this week, as the central bank warned that interest rates will remain higher for longer.
The European Central Bank and Bank of England also offered similar warnings, denting risk-driven assets across the globe. Higher rates limit the flow of foreign capital into Asia, presenting a weak outlook for local equities.
BOJ offers no changes as inflation rises
The Nikkei 225 index was trading down 0.4% by 23:16 ET after falling as much as 1% earlier on Friday.
The BOJ kept rates at negative levels, and said it will continue with its current pace of stimulus, disappointing some investors hoping for any hawkish signals.
A post-meeting address by Governor Kazuo Ueda is now in focus, after Ueda said in a recent interview that the bank had enough information to consider a pivot away from negative interest rates.
Ueda’s comments came amid some growth in Japanese wages, while inflation remained hot. Data on Friday showed that Japanese consumer price index inflation grew slightly more than expected in August, while a core reading remained at over 40-year highs.
A pivot by the BOJ will mark an end to nearly a decade of easy monetary policy enjoyed by Japanese stocks, and is also likely to send ripples across broader markets.
Preliminary data released on Friday also showed that Japan’s manufacturing sector slowed further in September.
Among other Asian markets, Australia’s ASX 200 fell 0.6%, pressured by losses in mining stocks as commodity prices retreated. The ASX was also one of the worst performers this week, down 3.7%.
South Korea’s KOSPI lost 0.3%, while futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a positive open after the index plummeted from record highs earlier this week. Sentiment towards the Nifty was also battered by a worsening diplomatic spat between India and Canada, over the alleged killing of a Sikh secessionist leader.
Chinese stocks were among the few outliers for the day, with the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes up 0.9% and 0.7%, respectively.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.3%, as Hong Kong CEO John Lee Ka-chiu said that the government was set to unlock more liquidity measures to boost local stocks.
But Chinese markets were still trading lower for the week, hit by growing impatience over more stimulus measures from Beijing. The People’s Bank kept its loan prime rates on hold, as expected, earlier in the week.
In Southeast Asian markets, Philippine and Indonesian stocks crept higher after their respective central banks kept interest rates on hold, as expected, on Thursday.
Source Courtesy: Investing.com