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Asian trading mixed after Fed ends emergency measures

Tokyo - Wall Street had closed out last week mostly lower, with all benchmarks finishing in the red for the week.


Published: Mon 22 Mar 2021, 7:50 AM

Asian shares were mixed Monday as sentiment was shaken by the US Federal Reserve’s announcement that it would end some emergency measures put in place last year to help the financial industry deal with the pandemic.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 1.8 per cent in morning trading to 29,248.90. South Korea’s Kospi edged nearly 0.1 per cent lower to 3,036.61. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7 per cent to 6,754.80. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.2 per cent to 28,921.82, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.7 per cent to 3,429.37.

In Tokyo trading, major stocks fell nearly across the board, including automakers like Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., whose earnings get a boost from a healthy U.S. economy. Toyota’s shares fell 2.4 per cent while Honda’s lost 3.2 per cent.

“Asia markets had seen a mixed commencement to the week with the rising bond yields once again weighing on sentiment. The see-sawing of the influence between rising bond yields and improving economic recovery prospect may well remain for the region going into the end of March,” said Jingyi Pan, senior market strategist at IG in Singapore.

The move last week by the Fed will restore some of the capital requirements for big banks that were suspended in the early months of the viral outbreak, in order to give banks flexibility. The banking industry had hoped those measures would be extended.

But most of the Fed’s policies aimed at supporting the recovery from the pandemic remain intact.

Worries about the coronavirus pandemic remain in the region, where vaccine rollouts in some nations such as Japan and Thailand are progressing slowly compared to the US or Europe. Nonetheless, in Japan a “state of emergency” is being lifted this week in the Tokyo area,

Wall Street had closed out last week mostly lower, with all benchmarks finishing in the red for the week. The S&P 500 lost 0.1 per cent to 3,913.10. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7 per cent to 32,627.97, pulled lower by financial companies. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.8 per cent, to 13,215.24.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies clawed back some of its losses from a day earlier, gaining 0.9 per cent to 2,287.55.

As interest rates have risen, pricier stocks like technology companies have fallen. The prospect of higher interest rates as bond yields rise has some investors concerned that economic growth could slow. There are also concerns that the rise in bond yields could be a harbinger of inflation.

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