By Selena Li

HONG KONG, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Asian stocks slid to a 47-day low on Wednesday as heightened outlooks for interest rates and geopolitical tensions weighed on risky assets.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.02%, touching its lowest since Jan. 6.

Japan’s Nikkei was down 1.32%, in its the worst performance in about a month following a Tuesday purchasing managers’ index report showing the factory sector had contracted.

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) said on Wednesday it would conduct emergency bond buying, in a move to contain elevated yields, as 10-year Japanese government bonds touched 0.505% for a second straight session, breaching the BOJ’s 0.5% cap and reaching the highest level since Jan. 18.

New Zealand’s central bank raised interest rates by 50 basis points to a more than 14-year high of 4.75%. The central bank said it expected to keep tightening further to ensure inflation returned to its target range over the medium term.

Wall Street posted its worst performance of the year on Tuesday, with an unexpectedly strong reading from S&P Global’s composite PMI showing the U.S. economy was not cooling yet. “It concerns the market that central banks will have to hike rates a lot more to curb inflation,” said Kerry Craig, JPMorgan Asset Management’s global market strategist. “I think the greater concern at the moment is around the earnings outlook and how much that is really going to fall from here … against the uncertainty around the probability of a recession in the U.S.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a warning to the West over Ukraine by suspending its last major nuclear arms control treaty with the United States. U.S. Secretary of State said Putin’s move was “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible”.

“This (nuclear pact suspension) has spurred the next leg of escalation concerns, invoking a response from President Biden in Poland saying that Russia will never win the war and pledging more support to Ukraine,” Saxo Markets APAC strategy team said in client note. “The focus is now on China which needs to back up its peace treaty words with action after being accused of supplying arms to Russia.”

China’s benchmark shed 0.68% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.09%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.3% on Wednesday, falling for a second straight session and touching its lowest in more than a month on expectations of interest rate rises.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.16%.

U.S. 10-year notes touched 3.966%, the highest since November, before easing to yield 3.948% on Wednesday.

The dollar index was flat, but analyst expect interest rate rises to lift the dollar, hurting emerging market equities, which benefited from a falling dollar.

U.S. crude fell 0.46% to $76.01 per barrel and Brent was at $82.74, down 0.37%.

Spot gold added 0.1% to reach $1,835.28 an ounce.

(Reporting by Selena Li; Editing by Bradley Perrett)


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