Asia shares rise as Fed chief again pushes back on bigger rate hikes; STI up 1.4%

In China, the blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.92 per cent. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Asian stocks and US equity futures rose on Friday (May 13) amid a bout of calm in global markets after Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell again pushed back against speculation of more aggressive interestcrate hikes.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 1.15 per cent, trimming its losses for the week to around 3.5 per cent.

Australian shares rose 1.56 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei stock index jumped 2.62 per cent.

In China, the blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.92 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.8 per cent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was up 1.4 per cent at 10.32am local time.

Abating panic in the highly speculative cryptocurrency market may be helping sentiment. Bitcoin added about 2.5 per cent to top US$29,000.

Mr Powell reaffirmed that the Fed is likely to raise rates by a half point at each of its next two meetings and is not "actively considering" a 75-basis point move.

But he left open the possibility of doing more if needed to get high inflation under control. Concerns that tightening monetary policy will spark an economic downturn continue to shadow markets and have tended to snuff out rebounds.

Such caution has put a United States dollar gauge on course for its longest streak of weekly gains since 2018. Treasuries gave back some of their recent rally, taking the 10-year yield to about 2.89 per cent. The yen also pared its climb this week.

Monetary tightening, China's Covid-19 lockdowns and Russia's war in Ukraine have roiled a range of assets this year and left world shares near a bear market.

It is a "very tough time", Ms Kathy Entwistle, managing director at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, said on Bloomberg Television. "We are holding just still and quiet and patient, and waiting for some more insights as to where we are going. We still see a lot of volatility on the horizon."

The latest US data showed that producer prices jumped 11 per cent from April last year, signalling that consumer inflation could continue to stay high.

In China, Beijing officials denied that the city will be locked down. Residents have flocked to grocery stores amid growing concern that the Chinese capital will step up curbs to fight a persistent Covid-19 outbreak.

In commodity markets, oil prices were higher but still set for their first weekly loss in three weeks, hit by concerns over inflation and China's Covid-19 lockdowns slowing global growth.

US crude ticked up 1.34 per cent to US$107.55 a barrel, and global benchrmark Brent crude was up 1.51 per cent at US$109.07 per barrel.

Spot gold, which has been hit by the soaring dollar, was up 0.15 per cent at US$1,824.49 per ounce, not far from a three-month low.

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