Asian equities rose Friday following a strong performance on Wall Street ahead of a key US jobs data release, while crude held most of the previous day’s gains after an output disappointed disappointed traders.
A below-forecast reading on US private jobs offered some support to New York, even as inflation and interest rate hike concerns remained major headaches.
While observers said the reading from payroll firm ADP was not usually a good guide for the official report, a soft number on Friday could give the Federal Reserve a little room to ease off its rate hike drive and provide a much-needed boost to sentiment. “Seemingly, anything that keeps the Fed from a more aggressive rate-hiking path appears to be greeted with open arms by equities,” said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management.
For now, expectations are for the US central bank to continue tightening monetary policy with half-point hikes at upcoming meetings, while vice chair Lael Brainard warned she did not yet see any reason to take a breather in the third quarter, as some had hoped. .
Still, a rally in beaten-down tech firms helped drive healthy gains on Wall Street, and Asia managed to ride on the coattails.
Tokyo rose more than one percent, while Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Wellington and Jakarta were also up, though Manila dipped.
Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei were closed for holidays.
But analysts remain on edge about the near-term outlook owing to uncertainty caused by a range of issues including the Ukraine war and China’s economic travails.
“We believe a slight lean toward defensive sectors and away from the growth-oriented areas of this market still make sense,” said Scott Brown, of LPL Financial.
“Outside of this recent rally, very little about this market has changed from a technical standpoint and that makes us wary of calling the all-clear.” Hopes that Opec and other major crude producers could ease pressure on inflation by ramping up output were dealt a blow when they agreed to pump just 50 percent more per month.
The announcement did little to soothe worries about a supply shortage caused by bans on US and UK imports from Russia, and came just as European leaders said they would impose a partial embargo on shipments.
A report showing a steep drop in US stockpiles added to the woes on oil trading floors, with some commentators saying prices could once again spike as China relaxes long-running lockdown measures in major cities.
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