Asian stocks strengthen but futures show bounce could be short lived


HONG KONG: Asian stocks rose on Wednesday as investors grew hopeful future global interest rate rises might become less aggressive amid early signs previous policy tightening was working to temper price pressures in some major world economies.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 2.3%, after U.S. stocks ended the previous session with gains. The index is up 1.4% so far this month.

Australian shares were up 1.66%, while Japan's Nikkei stock index climbed 0.39%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 5.38%, pushed higher by a 7% lift in tech stocks. Mainland Chinese markets remain closed for holidays.

Investors are closely awaiting a crucial supply decision from OPEC+ due later Wednesday which could have global implications for already high energy prices and inflation.

After making strong gains the previous day, U.S. crude dipped 0.35% to $86.22 a barrel while Brent crude fell 0.29% $91.58 per barrel.

OPEC+, which includes Russia and Saudi Arabia, could cut between 1 and 2 million barrels a day, according to a Reuters report earlier Wednesday.

The positive tone in Asian equities on Wednesday could prove to be short-lived though.

In early European trades, the pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 0.32% at 3,467, German DAX futures were down 0.41% at 12,631, FTSE futures were down 0.33% at 7,071.

U.S. stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were down 0.44% at 3,786.5.

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 indexes staged their biggest two-day rallies in two years on Tuesday as fears of aggressive rate hikes eased.

The positive sentiment was fuelled after U.S. job openings fell by the most in nearly 2-1/2 years in August in a sign the Federal Reserve's mission to tame demand by hiking rates was working.

"Investors have started to price in that central banks could start to slow the pace of their rate hikes and that is supportive for risk appetite," Clara Cheong, JPMorgan Asset Management's global strategist, told Reuters.

"To me, it looks like a bear market rally than anything that might be sustainable just yet. For it to be maintained, we need to see headline and core inflation coming down and not just for a month or two, we need to see a trend of that happening."

The U.S. Consumer Price Index for September is due to be published on October 13.

The strong performance of Australian shares is the first two-day gain since Sept. 13 and follows the share market's best day in more than two years on Tuesday after the Reserve Bank of Australia ordered a smaller-than-expected 25 basis points interest rate rise.

In a sign some central banks are still anxious about inflation, New Zealand raised its rates 50 basis points on Wednesday, as expected, but said it had considered a 75-basis point increase.

"This is an oversold market rounding because there has been a stabilisation in the ten year treasuries, the US dollar has started to consolidate and that has created this positive sentiment in the stock market," said Jack Siu, Credit Suisse's Greater China chief investment officer.

"It's going to be one of the bounces you see that won't be sustained in a volatile market." The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose to 3.6232% compared with its U.S. close of 3.617% on Tuesday.

The two-year yield, which rises with traders' expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 4.0799% compared with a U.S. close of 4.097%.

The dollar dropped slightly against the yen to 144.05. .

The euro slipped 0.1% on the day to $0.9971, having gained 1.76% in a month, while the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies of other major trading partners, was mildy positive in the Asian afternoon session after trading in the red earlier.

Gold was slightly lower. Spot gold traded at $1,719.8876 per ounce. - Reuters

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