Hong Kong (AFP) – The dollar extended gains against its main peers and most other currencies Tuesday as rising US bond yields fan speculation of a sharp rise in interest rates, while most of Asia’s major markets edged up after recent losses.
While the corporate earnings season is maintaining traders’ attention, the release on Friday of US economic growth data is a key marker with a strong reading likely to reinforce opinions that borrowing costs will go up.
An improving economy and expectations that inflation will continue to rise on the back of a oil price rally and Donald Trump’s tax cuts have lifted the yield of benchmark 10-year Treasuries close to three percent and near its highest level since 2014.
Higher yields are a signal interest rates could rise and could weigh on markets as traders shift from equities to safer bond investments.
“For us it’s more the reasons why we’re seeing the move: better growth outlook, a little bit more inflation and faster rate hikes being priced in by the market,” Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, told Bloomberg TV.
“It should be reaffirming the fact that we see a global economy that’s looking relatively healthy.”
The dollar rallied on the back of the higher yields, sitting at two-month highs against the yen and seven-week highs against the euro. It was also up against most other high-yielding units, including the Australian dollar, South Korean won, Mexican peso and South African rand.
“Without question (the) US GDP data will be crucial for an extension of the current dollar move as US economic strength in the face of synchronised economic slowdowns in both China and Europe are playing into the resurgent US dollar hand,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA.
The weaker yen boosted Japanese exporters, which helped the Nikkei to end 0.9 percent higher.
Hong Kong added 0.8 percent, Shanghai rose two percent and Sydney put on 0.6 percent, while Singapore was 0.1 percent higher.
However, Seoul eased 0.4 percent, while Taipei, Wellington and Manila were also down.
Technology firms staged a mild recovery after recent losses as Apple suffered another sell-off on worries about the key smartphone sector.
Russian aluminum giant Rusal soared almost 40 percent in Hong Kong after the US Treasury said it would consider lifting sanctions if tycoon Oleg Deripaska gives up control of the company.
And in oil markets, both main contracts built on Monday’s gains to hold at peaks not seen since late 2014, with ongoing unrest between Saudi Arabia and Yemen rebels providing support.
Adding to the positive outlook for crude is improving demand in the United States and geopolitical tensions.
In early European trade London rose 0.1 percent and Frankfurt added 0.2 percent but Paris fell 0.2 percent.
– Key figures around 0720 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.9 percent at 22,278.12 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.8 percent at 30,504.63
Shanghai – Composite: UP 2.0 percent at 3,128.93 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,407.67
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2200 from $1.2207 at 2100 GMT
Dollar/yen: UP at 108.90 yen from 108.72
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3925 from $1.3941
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 61 cents at $69.25 per barrel
Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 50 cents at $75.21 per barrel
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 24,448.69 (close)