Asian markets reverse morning rally, Buffett boosts Tokyo

August 31, 2020: Asian markets fell Monday as investors struggled to maintain their early momentum following another record lead from Wall Street.

Profit-taking kicked in after last week's Federal Reserve-induced surge.

The US central bank's pledge of trillions of dollars in support to keep financial markets going has been key to a surge in equities from their March troughs, with the tech-rich Nasdaq almost doubling in that time as people stay home.

And boss Jerome Powell's speech Thursday, marking a shift in the Fed's inflation policy, hammered home that promise, helping fire the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to more record highs. The Dow also advanced to erase all its losses for the year to date.

“With a low, neutral Fed funds rate, a de-emphasis of inflation overshoots and a focus on employment, monetary policy will be highly stimulative for a long, long time. Indeed, music to the stock market's ears,” said Stephen Innes at AxiCorp.

He said during the financial crisis, the bank began cutting interest rates in mid-2007 and did not lift them until more than eight years later, and it could take just as long to see them lifted again.

But Monday's early promise came to nothing in Asian business.

Hong Kong and Shanghai both fell 0.2 percent after jumping more than one percent, while Seoul and Taipei all shed more than one percent

Sydney, Mumbai, Jakarta and Singapore were also in the red.

Tokyo rose more than one percent, though, after losing more than one percent Friday in reaction to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's resignation.

While the news fanned fears of uncertainty in the country, analysts said no major confusion is expected with reports saying his right-hand man Yoshihide Suga is set to stand as his successor.

Trading houses were the big winners after US investment legend Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway said it has bought slightly more than five percent stakes in each of Japan's big five companies.

Marubeni Corp and Sumitomo Corp each put on more than nine percent, Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsui & Co gained more than seven percent and Itochu Corp also rallied.

News that China's services sector saw a forecast-beating improvement in August, lifted hopes that crucial domestic consumer spending was picking up in the world's number two economy. However, figures also showed that factory activity weakened at the same time.

“While China has given important signs that its economy is recovering from the Covid-19 shock, doubts remain on the speed due to the lingering uncertainties regarding new waves of Covid-19 globally as well as the still-hesitant consumption and poor labour market condition,” Alicia Garcia Herrero, at Natixis SA, said.

Wellington tumbled with trading continuing despite further cyberattacks that shut the market down four times last week.

While the foreign-sourced attacks forced operator NZX's website offline, the company said the bourse itself was trading as normal.

NZX chief executive Mark Peterson said US cyber-defence experts Akamai Technologies had been brought in to help repel the attacks, alongside network provider Spark and New Zealand's GCSB spy agency.

Paris and Frankfurt rose soon after opening.

AFP/APP

Posted on: 2020-08-31T13:00:00+05:00

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