The dollar and Treasury yields remained elevated after multiple Federal Reserve officials continued to talk up additional rate hikes ahead of a crucial US jobs report later in the day, while rising crude oil prices compounded concerns about prolonged inflation.
Japan’s Nikkei dropped 0.7% as of 0130 GMT, pulling back from a two-week high reached on Thursday.
South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.33%, weighed partly by a decline in Samsung Electronics shares, after the technology giant flagged a worse-than-expected 32% drop in quarterly operating earnings. Australia’s stock benchmark retreated 0.59%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 1.17% lower in early trade, with its tech stocks tumbling 2.32%. Mainland shares remain closed for the final day of the Golden Week holiday.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares declined 0.85%.
Meanwhile, US S&P 500 futures pointed 0.12% lower, after the index dropped 1% overnight.
Fed officials showed no intention of backing down from the most aggressive rate hike campaign in decades, with Fed governor Lisa Cook, Chicago Fed president Charles Evans and Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari all emphasising that the inflation fight was ongoing and they were not prepared to change course. Read full story
Stocks started the week on a strong footing, with the MSCI world equity index rallying 5.65% in the first two days amid speculation that the pace of central bank tightening might slow, but that has fizzled out since Wednesday.
Markets currently price an 85.5% chance of a 75 basis point increase for next month’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, and 14.5% odds for a half point bump.
Investors will now be looking to Friday’s non-farm payrolls report for some clarity as to whether a steady diet of rate hikes has begun to take a bite out of hiring and wage inflation.
“Ongoing hawkish comments by Fed officials (are) a clear pushback on the ‘Fed will pivot’ narrative that has supported risk assets since the beginning of the week,” said Tapas Strickland, head of market economics at National Australia Bank.
“Some positioning ahead of U.S. payrolls tonight is also probably a factor. Given the rally in risk assets earlier in the week, the pain trade would seem to be a ‘good news is bad news’ print.”
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was at 3.8297% in Tokyo trading, little changed from its New York close following a two-day rebound from a two-week low of 3.5620%.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six major peers, was little changed at 112.24 following a 1.84% two-day rally from a two-week low.
Sterling sagged near its lowest level this week, last changing hands at $1.1164, while the euro sank to the lowest since Monday at $0.9787.
Japan’s yen weakened past 145 again overnight and fluctuated around that level in early Friday trading. Japanese authorities intervened to support their currency for the first time since 1998 on 22 September following a break of the 145 level.
Crude oil on Friday continued the climb triggered by OPEC output cuts announced this week.
Brent crude futures rose 19 cents to $94.61 a barrel. WTI crude futures rose 24 cents to $88.69 a barrel, after earlier hitting $89.37 per barrel, the highest since 14 September. BM/DM