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Asian Equity Markets Surge with Fed Rate Policy Caution


Lauren Miller

March 31, 2024 - 22:19 pm


Asian Equity Markets Set for Uptick Amid Cautious Fed Stance on Rate Cuts

Equity markets throughout Asia are gearing up for an upbeat opening following the Federal Reserve's latest comments, which underscored a methodical approach to interest rate adjustments. Asian investors appear emboldened by the Fed's stance of not rushing into rate cuts, waiting instead for more convincing signs of inflation coming under control.

Lukewarm Welcome for Interest Rate Update

Market activity in Asia commenced on a bright note as the Federal Reserve shed light on its monetary policy outlook. The central bank indicated that it’s not in a rush to cut rates, keen on observing further evidence that inflation is trending towards the 2% target. This message came through as futures for the Nikkei 225 index signaled a positive opening, even though markets in Hong Kong and Australia remained closed for public holidays.

Despite a recent release of inflation data that Jerome Powell, the Chair of the Federal Reserve, described as closely aligned with expectations, he maintained that a rate reduction would be premature unless there's a reliable sign that inflation is moving toward the set target. This statement has led investors to speculate that the Fed may consider the first rate cut as early as June.

“The Federal Reserve is currently highly reliant on data,” commented Matthew Luzzetti, the chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank. “We're in a holding pattern until the economic data either confirms or revises our expectations. This makes it challenging to predict the Fed’s future policy trajectory.”

China’s Manufacturing PMI: A Sign of Endurance

In China, a glimmer of resilience was observed as the official manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) experienced expansion in March for the first time since September, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Sunday. This particular data point indicates that China’s economy has preserved its momentum after a stable beginning of the year, offering policymakers a broader time frame to evaluate the effects of previous stimulus endeavors.

Setting a somewhat ambitious target to bolster its gross domestic product (GDP) by about 5% this year, China continues to grapple with an extended downturn in its property market and enduring deflationary pressures. "The industrial sector appears resilient, partly owing to robust exports," noted Zhang Zhiwei, the chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management. He added, "An upward trend in fiscal spending coupled with sustained strong exports could enhance economic momentum further."

Global Markets and Currency Dynamics

Investors are also keeping a vigilant eye on government bonds as trading resumes in Asia. Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar showcased a mixed performance against its major trading partners – conforming to rather narrow ranges – with an index measuring the dollar's strength concluding the quarter on a higher note.

Wall Street's Surprising Uptrend

Notably, over in Wall Street, traders propelled the S&P 500 to its 22nd yearly peak during the prior week, contributing to an astounding $4 trillion surge in U.S. equity values within a mere three-month period. This remarkable turn of events has left skeptics baffled and prompted numerous strategists to hastily reassess their 2024 projections.

Cryptocurrencies Remain High-Flying

In the realm of digital currencies, Bitcoin maintained its stature above the $70,000 mark. The preeminent cryptocurrency has witnessed a near 70% year-to-date climb, buoyed by a relentless appetite for U.S.-based exchange-traded funds that include the digital token.

Anticipated Economic Events and Reports

Throughout the ensuing week, key economic events and data announcements will attract significant attention. Market participants will track the Caixin manufacturing PMI in China and the Tankan business sentiment index as well as manufacturing PMI data from Japan. The list extends to data such as Macau's casino revenue, trade statistics, CPI data from various countries, and the manufacturing PMI from nations including Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

The United States will also post its construction spending and ISM Manufacturing index, complemented by the Bank of Canada's release of its business outlook survey and consumer expectations. Additional noteworthy updates will consist of various PMI, CPI, and unemployment reports from Europe as well as industrial production from Brazil, services PMI from China, and retail sales from Hong Kong and Singapore among many others.

A multitude of activities in the markets will serve as indicators for investors across the globe:


  • Futures for the Nikkei 225 index showed a 0.4% uptick as of early Tokyo time.


  • A minor increase of 0.1% marked the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index.
  • The euro remained relatively static at $1.0794.
  • The Japanese yen hovered around 151.30 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan and the Australian dollar stayed steady at 7.2564 and $0.6519 respectively.


  • Bitcoin traded in a narrow range, observed at $70,878.54.
  • Ether inched up by 0.1%, reaching $3,637.5.


  • Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasuries remained flat at 4.20%.
  • Japan's equivalent yield edged up by two basis points to 0.725%.
  • There was no movement in Australia's 10-year yield, which stood at 3.96%.


  • Spot gold witnessed a sizable 1.6% increase, hitting $2,229.87 per ounce.

This intricate mosaic of market activities offers an at-a-glance overview of the prevailing economic environment and sets the scene for the trading week ahead.

This extensive and detailed analysis of the current financial landscape demonstrates the interconnected nature of global markets and economies. The Federal Reserve's attitudes towards monetary policy, combined with economic indicators from China to Wall Street, continue to influence investor sentiment and market movements in intricate ways. By staying attuned to these developments, participants hope to navigate through the often turbulent waters of international finance.

As these market dynamics unfold, Bloomberg will continue to assist in the narrative by providing the latest information and analytics, backed by the power of Bloomberg Automation.

Please click here to view related market graphics and further insights into the equity and economic trends discussed in this article.

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