Asian Stocks Up, but Inflation Concerns Re-Emerge

This post was originally published on this site – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly up Monday morning, with volumes thin over the closure of two major markets in the region and re-emerging inflation concerns.

Chinese and Japanese markets are closed for a holiday.

In Australia, the ASX 200 edged up 0.14% by 10:30 PM ET (2:30 AM GMT), ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s policy decision due to be handed down on Tuesday. April’s Australian Industry Group manufacturing index, released earlier in the day, was at 61.7, higher than March’s 59.9 reading.

South Korea’s KOSPI inched up 0.05% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 1.45%.

U.S Treasury yields held above the 1.6% mark at the close of the previous session. Inflation concerns are back in the spotlight as U.S. economic data, including GDP and initial jobless claims, released during the previous week indicated potential inflation pressures and increased talk of a possible pullback in central bank support.

Investors are also worried that central banks could begin tapering their asset purchase programs that have supported the recovery earlier than expected.

U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan said on Friday that signs of excessive risk-taking suggest it’s time to start debating a reduction in bond purchases, in direct contrast with the central bank’s current dovish policy.

Kaplan currently does not hold a vote on the rate-setting committee, but investors will pay close attention to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments due later in the day, and those of other Fed policymakers later in the week.

On the data front, the U.S. will release more economic data, including Institute of Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index and April non-farm payrolls, during the week, with almost a million jobs forecast to have been created during the month as Americans spent their stimulus checks and the U.S. economy continues its recovery from COVID-19.

However, some investors pointed out that the U.S. is still on the road to recovery.

“Payrolls should show another near 1 million jobs gain, but that would still leave them 7.5 million below pre-COVID levels,” NAB. director of economics Tapas Strickland told Reuters.

“Powell recently noted that it would take a string of months of job creation of about a million a month to achieve the substantial progress required to justify tapering QE,” Strickland added.

Other investors also played down inflation fears focusing instead on the Fed’s next moves.

“Interest rates going forward will be led more by expectations on the tapering from the Fed rather than by inflation,” Gulf Investment Corp. head of debt capital markets Raffaele Bertoni told Bloomberg.

On the COVID-19 front, India continues to deal with a virulent second wave of cases. The daily number of COVID-19 cases passed the 400,000-mark on Sunday, before inching back down to 392,488 on Monday, according to the country’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.