Asian Stocks Sink As Fed Chair’s Testimony Still Weighs, USD Up

Talking Points:

  • Asian stocks were broadly lower Thursday
  • Local economic data were mixed
  • The US Dollar’s strong bid continues

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Asian stocks were lower Thursday, largely it seems thanks to Wall Street’s previous lower close which came in turn after failure to hold early gains. Investors still seem worried that the pace of US interest rate hikes could accelerate after this week’s Congressional testimony from new Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

The Nikkei duly ended down 1.56%, with the ASX 200 down 0.7% and all other Asia Pacific indexes in the red as they headed towards their respective closes. Chinese stocks relinquished early gains and by late afternoon were in the red in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The session’s economic data were mixed, pulling the Australian Dollar in opposing directions. Australian capital expenditure came in surprisingly weak, but China’s private sector manufacturing industry expanded ahead of expectations. The US Dollar was broadly stronger, still feeling the tailwind from Mr. Powell, while the Euro languished at five week lows. Investors are looking nervously toward this weekend’s Italian election and, specifically, how well euroskeptic parties might do.

Gold prices were lower again, spooked by higher US yields, while crude oil prices were steady.

Still to come on Thursday’s packed economic data schedule, UK house prices from Nationwide, Swiss retail sales figures, Eurozone unemployment stats and Italian GDP. From the US will come personal income and spending details for January along with initial and continuing jobless-claim figures. February’s survey from the Institute for Supply Management is coming up, as is Canada’s manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index.

— Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Follow David on Twitter:@DavidCottleFX or use the Comments section below to get in touch!

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