Asian share markets were set for a rough ride on Monday as fears of resurgent inflation battered bonds, toppled Wall Street from record highs and sparked speculation central banks globally might be forced to tighten more aggressively. Futures for the Nikkei implied an opening loss of around 1.6 percent, while Australia’s main index was already down 1.4 percent. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 shed 0.5 percent in early trading, an unusually sharp move for Asian hours. Investors were spooked by Friday’s U.S. payrolls report which showed wages growing at their fastest pace in more than 8-1/2 years and fuelling inflation expectations. Futures markets reacted by pricing in the risk of three, or even more, rate rises from the Federal Reserve this year. “The earnings data fits too closely with the narrative of emerging wage pressures to be dismissed,” said Deutsche Bank macro strategist Alan Ruskin. “The data will add fuel to the debate on whether the Fed is falling behind the curve. It will raise the chances of the Fed median dots shifting up to 4 rate hikes for 2018,” he added. That would be negative for emerging markets and commodity currencies, said Ruskin. Both the Australian and New Zealand dollars fell sharply in the wake of the jobs numbers, along with a range of Asian currencies.
It was also a major blow to government bond. Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury paper were up at a four-year peak of 2.852 percent, having jumped almost 7 basis points on Friday. The 2-year yield was near a nine-year top at 2.153 percent, tightening financial conditions and offering a more competitive return compared to equities. DOLLAR OFF THE MAT Wall Street had already been flashing expensive on many historical measures and sold off in reaction. The Dow fell 2.54 percent, the S&P 500 2.12 percent and the Nasdaq 1.96 percent. It was the Dow’s biggest daily percentage loss in 20 months and the largest point fall since December 2008. The three major indexes logged their biggest weekly losses in two years, after closing at record highs the previous week.
Yet the lift in U.S. yields came as a relief to the dollar after a rocky start to the year. “The dollar’s steep rise aligns neatly with the bounce in U.S. bond yields and a degree of safe haven demand on equity weakness,” said Sean Callow, a strategist at Westpac. “It suggests that perhaps the tortured explanations around year-end of why the dollar was not benefiting from the Fed’s tightening cycle can be shelved, at least near term.” Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was up at 89.195 having climbed 0.6 percent on Friday for its biggest single day gain in three months.
The dollar was hovering at 110.16 yen after bouncing from 109.29 on Friday, while the euro had eased back to $1.2427 from a top of 1.2518. The rally was a negative for commodities priced in dollars, with the Thomson Reuters CRB index down 0.5 percent. Gold was off at $1,330.86 an ounce after losing 1 percent on Friday. In oil markets, U.S. crude fell 48 cents to $64.97 a barrel, while Brent lost 49 cents to $68.09.