Asian stocks, US futures inch up as markets sentiment helped by China; Hang Sang index up 2%

Chinese banks cut the five-year loan prime rate, which will help to reduce mortgage costs and may boost loan demand amid a property slump and Covid lockdowns.

Asian stock market
Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1% and S&P 500 futures rose 0.7% in early Asian trade on Friday. (File: Reuters)

Stocks and US equity futures pushed higher Friday as sentiment received a boost from a move by Chinese banks to lower a key interest rate for long-term loans by a record amount.

Shares rose in Japan, Hong Kong and China, shrugging off modest losses on Wall Street Thursday. European contracts gained about 1%.

Chinese banks cut the five-year loan prime rate, which will help to reduce mortgage costs and may boost loan demand amid a property slump and Covid lockdowns.

That step overshadowed less positive developments in Shanghai, which found three Covid cases outside quarantine, raising questions over whether plans to loosen curbs there will be impacted.

Sovereign bonds dipped, with the US 10-year Treasury yield advancing to about 2.86%. A dollar gauge trimmed its biggest one-day drop since 2020. Oil hovered near $112 a barrel, heading for a weekly gain on optimism about demand.

Rebounds in risk sentiment have tended to fizzle this year. Investors continue to grapple with concerns about an economic downturn, in part as the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates to quell price pressures. Global shares are on course for an historic seventh week of declines.

Kansas City Fed President Esther George acknowledged equities were having a “rough” patch but did nothing to soften the US central bank’s hawkish tone.

“Inflationary pressures look very much persistent at the moment,” Lale Akoner, senior market strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management, said on Bloomberg Television. “The biggest risk right now is developed-market central banks might trigger a recession. We are increasingly suspecting that they made a policy mistake.”

US data included weaker-than-forecast US jobless claims and a downbeat regional Philadelphia Fed business-outlook survey.

In the latest developments over Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Senate passed a more than $40 billion Ukraine aid package, sending the bill to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Traders in the US will be bracing for more volatility later Friday due to the monthly expiration of options tied to equities and exchange-traded funds. The process is notorious for stirring up market swings.

Some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • S&P 500 futures rose 0.7% as of 10:49 a.m. in Tokyo. The S&P 500 fell 0.6%
  • Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1%. The Nasdaq 100 fell 0.4%
  • Japan’s Topix index added 0.6%
  • Australia’s S&P ASX/200 index increased 1.1%
  • South Korea’s Kospi index rose 1.5%
  • China’s Shanghai Composite index climbed 1.1%
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 2.2%

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.2%
  • The euro was at $1.0574, down 0.1%
  • The Japanese yen was at 128.07 per dollar, down 0.2%
  • The offshore yuan was at 6.7375 per dollar, down 0.1%

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose three basis points to 2.86%
  • Australia’s 10-year bond yield fell seven basis points to 3.13%

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude was at $112 a barrel, down 0.2%
  • Gold was at $1,838 an ounce, down 0.2%

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