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Asia stocks gain as investors await key US jobs data, Powell testimony

Asian markets swing as inflation
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March 07, 2023 (MLN): Asian stock markets rose on Tuesday as investors prepared for the release of important US jobs data and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's testimony to lawmakers. Market participants are closely watching Powell's remarks for insight into the central bank's plans as it raises interest rates to combat inflation.

Recent economic indicators suggest that the world's largest economy is still running hot, and inflation is not decreasing as quickly as hoped. This has put pressure on the Fed to continue raising borrowing costs. Several officials have warned that rates may need to be raised further and held there for some time.

Investors had become optimistic that the Fed would be able to cut rates by the end of the year. However, the prospect of further tightening has dealt a blow to those hopes. OANDA's Edward Moya said that traders are expecting two or three more quarter-point increases before the Fed stops.

This week is likely to be a crucial moment for risk appetite, as we will hear from Fed Chair Powell and find out if the hot January jobs report was an aberration. Stocks may not be able to have a significant rally until we hear from Powell.

Powell is scheduled to speak to lawmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the highly anticipated non-farm payrolls report for February will be released on Friday. In January, more than half a million new jobs were created, far exceeding expectations. Another bumper figure in February could trigger another sell-off in stocks.

In early Asian trading, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Taipei, and Manila all rose, while Wellington and Jakarta dipped. This followed a tepid lead from Wall Street and a soft performance on Monday in Asia. China's lower-than-expected target for economic growth this year weighed on sentiment, but some observers noted that a powerful Chinese recovery would likely further fan inflation, benefiting the global economy.

Stephen Innes, of SPI Asset Management, pointed out that China's reopening trades have underperformed significantly, with Asian equities being some of the worst-performing indices this year. It remains unclear whether this is merely a positioning unwind or a market downgrade of China's reopening prospects.

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Posted on: 2023-03-07T11:18:03+05:00