interest rates, OPEC report, dollar moves


SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets were set to inch higher Tuesday following a quiet day on Wall Street where the U.S. markets were closed for a public holiday.

Australia’s ASX 200 eked out a 0.21% gain in early trade. Meanwhile, Nikkei futures pointed to a slightly higher open in Japan at the top of the hour.

Global interest rates continue to climb on expectations of faster central bank tightening, according to Tapas Strickland, director for economics and markets at the National Australia Bank.

“As for central bank pricing, markets now fully price four rate hikes from the US Fed in 2022, and the timing of the first ECB rate hike has been brought forward to September. The exception is China with the [People’s Bank of China] cutting rates by 10bps yesterday amid an uncertain growth outlook,” he wrote in a Tuesday morning note.

Chinese President Xi Jinping cautioned against a rapid rise in interest rates on Monday that could derail the global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“If major economies slam on the brakes or take a U-turn in their monetary policies, there would be serious negative spillovers,” Xi said via videoconference at The Davos Agenda virtual event.

“They would present challenges to global economic and financial stability, and developing countries would bear the brunt of it,” he said, according to an English translation of his remarks.

He also called for countries to move away from a “Cold War mentality,” saying history has repeatedly shown that confrontation only invites disastrous repercussions.

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In the previous session, Asia markets had a muted reaction to official data out of China, which showed the world’s second-largest economy grew faster than expected between October and December.

Strickland pointed out that the outlook for China’s economy has “much more uncertainty,” and that the country’s zero-Covid policy is “dragging on the economy, and add to that the lost momentum due to problems in the property sector.”

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded fractionally higher at 95.251 against a basket of its peers.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 114.61, little changed from its previous close. The Australian dollar also traded relatively flat at $0.7209.

Oil prices rose during Asian trading hours, with U.S. crude advancing 0.54% to $84.27 a barrel.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, is due to release its monthly oil market report on Tuesday where traders are likely to watch for signs that global oil demand has been affected by the surge in Covid cases around the world.



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