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Asian equities rally, dollar extends losses on Fed rate cut bets

WT24 Desk

HONG KONG – Asian markets rallied Thursday and the dollar suffered further across-the-board losses after the head of the Federal Reserve all but guaranteed an interest rate cut this month, AFP reports.

In the first day of closely watched congressional testimony, Jerome Powell
said the case for lower borrowing costs “had strengthened” owing to headwinds caused by global trade uncertainty.

The comments sparked much-needed relief on trading floors around the
world, having suffered steep losses at the start of the week in reaction to a
blockbuster US jobs report that dented hopes for a steep Fed cut at its next
policy meeting.

US equities surged, with the Nasdaq ending at a record high and the
greenback going into retreat, and the trend continued into Asia.

Hong Kong jumped more than one percent and Shanghai added 0.6 percent,
while Tokyo ended the morning session 0.4 percent higher.

Seoul was up 1.2 percent, Sydney rose 0.2 percent, Singapore climbed 0.8
percent and Taipei put on 0.4 percent.

Manila, Wellington and Jakarta also shifted into positive territory.

“One of the principal drivers of soaring stock market valuation is the
thought that easy monetary policy will bolster the US economy, which isn’t
struggling, and spur on an even more scintillating stock market rally for the
remainder of 2019,” said Stephen Innes at Vanguard Markets.

– Oil extends rally –

While the direction of rates is expected to be downward this year, there
are conflicting opinions on how deep July’s cut will be and how many more
there will be this year.

OANDA senior market analyst Alfonso Esparza said: “A July rate cut is
fully priced in but a stronger-than-forecast (jobs) report in June put a
question mark on how many more cuts the Fed needs to make.

“The trade war with China is a major factor and if there is an agreement
in the short term the central bank could leave it at one and done for the

Traders are now looking forward to Powell’s second day on Capitol Hill as
well as the release of inflation data, with observers saying a weak reading
could revive hopes for a big July reduction.

The dollar continued to struggle, with the pound, euro and yen all
building on Wednesday’s gains, while high-yielding, riskier units were also
well up with South Korea’s won 0.8 percent higher, South Africa’s ran 1.6
percent up and the Australian dollar jumping 0.7 percent.

Oil prices edged up to extend the previous day’s surge that came on the
back of data showing a bigger-than-expected plunge in US oil inventories as
well as a brewing storm in the Gulf of Mexico that could hit production.

WTI jumped 4.5 percent, while Brent surged more than five percent
Wednesday, while a CNN report that the armed Iranian boats tried to seize a
British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz reinforced geopolitical concerns.

The weak dollar also sent the price of gold rallying two percent to sit
around $1,420.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 21,609.08 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.2 percent at 28,535.85

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 2931.40

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1263 from $1.1251 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2509 from $1.2504

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.08 yen from 108.46 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 16 cents at $60.59 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP two cents at $67.03 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 26,860.20 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,530.69 (close)

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