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Asian shares shaky ahead of US inflation data - Michael West

Asian shares shaky ahead of US inflation data - Michael West
Asian stocks stuttered in choppy early trade on Wednesday as markets braced for a key US inflation reading, while the yen lurked just shy of 160 per dollar level, keeping traders on alert for another round of intervention by Japanese authorities. Risk sentiment was also capped as hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials kept near-term […]

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Asian Stocks Stutter as Markets Brace for US Inflation Data

Asian stocks experienced a choppy start on Wednesday as investors awaited a key US inflation reading. The yen hovered just below the 160 per dollar level, keeping traders on alert for potential intervention by Japanese authorities.

Hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials also impacted risk sentiment and kept near-term US rate cut expectations in check, boosting the dollar.

Japan’s Nikkei and Taiwan stocks soared, led by chipmakers, while China stocks edged lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was also off 0.16 per cent.

On the US monetary policy front, Fed officials urged patience on interest rate cuts, with governor Lisa Cook saying the central bank is on track for a rate cut if the economy’s performance meets her expectations. However, she declined to specify when the Fed will act.

In the currency market, the dollar index was steady at 105.64, while the euro was at $US1.0715. The Australian dollar rose after data showed consumer price inflation accelerated to a six-month high in May.

The yen was fetching 159.79 per dollar and has been trading in tight ranges as it approaches the crucial 160 level. The latest slide in the yen came after the Bank of Japan’s June policy meeting, where policymakers disappointed investors who were betting on an immediate reduction of the central bank’s massive bond purchases.

In commodities, oil prices were little changed in Asian trade, with Brent crude oil futures flat at $US85.02 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $US80.9 per barrel. Gold prices eased to $US2,318 per ounce but remain up 12 per cent this year.