Stock markets in Asia have tumbled to their lowest in nearly 15 months after Americ’s central bank chief confirmed widely expected plans to increase interest rates this year, beginning in March, The Guardian reported.
With investors also concerned about political tensions between Russia and Ukraine, supply chain problems and rising oil prices, the prospect of sustained increases in the cost of borrowing by the world’s most powerful economy sent a spasm of anxiety through financial markets on Thursday.
Luigi Speranza, chief global economist at BNP Paribas Markets 360, now expects the Fed to raise interest rates six times this year, after last night’s hawkish comments from Jerome Powell.
“We read Fed Chair Powell’s comment that this cycle is different from the previous one as an indication that the Fed’s bias is for a steeper tightening than the markets and we had envisaged. We have moved our call for this year to six 25bp hikes from four previously and now expect the fed funds target range at 2.25-2.50 per cent at end-2023, 25bp higher than we had previously forecast. Our new base case for six hikes this year poses challenges to our bullish outlook for US equities. However, it is not sufficient to derail it on a standalone basis if earnings growth remains strong, in our view”, The Guardian reported.
Last month, the Fed’s officials predicted they would increase rates three times in 2022, while the markets had been pricing in four increases.
“The Fed’s gone from being the market’s best friend, to a possible enemy,” said Kyle Rodda, analyst at the online trading platform IG in Sydney, adding that the Fed was set on “bringing inflation down, rather than protecting asset prices”, the report said.
The Nikkei in Japan led the way as it plunged more than 3 per cent while the Kospi in Seoul found itself in similarly negative territory. The market in Hong Kong was off 2.5 per cent and Sydney shed nearly 2 per cent.
MSCI’s broad gauge of regional markets outside Japan fell more than 2 per cent to its lowest level since November 2020.
The FTSE100 is set to fall nearly 2 per cent when it opens on Thursday morning, according to futures trade, with the Wall Street markets also heading for a hefty loss.
Mike Kelly, head of global multi-asset at PineBridge Investments in the US, said it was a sign to “get the heck out” of US stocks. “It’s all about selling longer duration assets,” he said, “so we are underexposed to US equities”, the report said.
(Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at Sanjeev.email@example.com)