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Asian stocks up as investors calm over potential Fed moves

Federal Reserve head Jerome Powell was confirmed to his second term on Thursday. ©AFP

Hong Kong (AFP) - Asian equities were mostly up Friday following a tumultuous trading period on Wall Street, which rebounded at the close after investors calmed down about US policies to counter surging inflation.

World markets have been volatile for much of 2022 owing to China's Covid-19 lockdowns, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and surging inflation weighing on consumer sentiment.

The Federal Reserve last week had announced its largest rate hike since 2000 and signalled that similar increases were likely in the coming months -- a possibility that sent markets on a rollercoaster. 

"Macro-economic concerns have continued to weigh heavily on the equity markets this week, as stagflation and recession fears continue to dampen investor enthusiasm," said Lewis Grant of Federated Hermes Limited.

He added that the fears have been echoed in forecasts by major companies, with a large number of firms citing supply chain concerns. 

Wall Street was mixed Thursday after another day of volatile trading, with the Dow falling for the sixth straight session but the Nasdaq mustering a small gain.

The small rebound on the tech-rich Nasdaq came after Fed Reserve chief Jerome Powell -- confirmed Thursday by the Senate for a second term -- expressed confidence that the economy is strong enough to withstand tighter monetary policies. 

According to Bloomberg, Powell reaffirmed that the Fed was likely to raise rates by a half point but isn't "actively considering" a 75-basis point move.

In Asia, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore and Sydney opened higher on Friday, while Wellington traded in the negatives.

Dread has not only sent traditional markets seesawing, but the cryptocurrency realm also saw great volatility this week. 

Bitcoin tumbled to the lowest level since late 2020, following a dramatic collapse in some so-called stablecoin cryptocurrencies -- TerraUSD and Tether.

The two stablecoins -- which are supposed to be pegged to the dollar -- proved to be anything but, as their values collapse. 

While the digital currency market stabilised by Friday, Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said "the 7-day moves in some of the 'other crypto experiments' on monster volume are insane and increasingly difficult to watch".

Bitcoin slumped below $27,000 before recovering, and traded at over $30,000 by mid-Friday.

Oil remained up on Friday, with US benchmark crude WTI trading at more than $107 a barrel.

"As long as the war continues and macro pressures persist, it is likely that both energy names and value stocks will remain relative safe-havens for fully-invested, long-only equity investors," said Grant of Federated Hermes Limited.

Key figures at around 0230 GMT

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.7 percent at 19,705.86  

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,064.32  

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 2.7 percent at 25,421.84 (break)

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.4 percent at $108.90 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.2 percent at $107.36 per barrel

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0387 from $1.0382 at 2100 GMT Thursday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2212 from $1.2199

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.06 pence from 85.08 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 128.36 yen from 129.97 yen

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 31,730.30 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.6 percent at 7,233.34 (close)

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Dive Deeper:
Asian stocks up after Fed boss calms nerves over rates
Hong Kong (AFP) - Asian equities were mostly up Friday following a tumultuous trading period on Wall Street, but analysts…
Stocks bounce after Fed boss calms nerves over rates
London (AFP) - Global stock markets rebounded Friday as fears eased about the pace of interest rate rises in the…
Asian stocks mixed, Europe opens higher as investors fret over inflation
Hong Kong (AFP) - Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday, following a volatile day on Wall Street with investors concerned…
Asian stocks open mixed as investors fret over oil prices
Hong Kong (AFP) - Asian stocks opened mixed on Wednesday, following a volatile day on Wall Street that had investors…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Markets rebound after Fed boss calms nerves over rates
London (AFP) - Global stock markets rebounded Friday on easing fears about the pace of interest rate rises in the…
Global stocks down, euro slumps over growth and inflation worries
New York (AFP) - World equities mostly fell Thursday, and the euro hit a five-year dollar low as investors worried…
Get all your news in one place