Asian stocks edge higher, led by rally in commodities

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
Asian stocks edge higher, led by rally in commodities
Credit: © Reuters.

By Anshuman Daga and Echo Wang

SINGAPORE/MIAMI, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Asian stocks rebounded from two-week lows struck on Tuesday as rising commodity prices boosted market expectations of an improved growth outlook, a day after rising U.S. Treasury yields and inflation prospects hit U.S. tech shares.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS ticked up 0.2% after dipping to 719.8, the lowest level in two weeks. The gauge has eased from last week's record top but is still up just over 9% so far this year.

The Australian S&P/ASX 200 .AXJO and Singapore's Straits Times index .STI both gained 0.6% and Hong Kong .HSI advanced 1.1%. The tech-laden South Korea's Kospi .KS11 was a prominent loser, down 0.3% and Taiwan .TWII eased 0.05%.

Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday.

"A higher interest rate environment forces investors to consider the opportunity costs of investments. Stocks that have significant borrowing, or produce no income for investors, may be particularly vulnerable," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at broker CMC Markets in Sydney.

On Wall Street, high-growth stocks such as Apple AAPL.O , Microsoft MSFT.O and Tesla TSLA.O weighed on the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC , which shed 2.5% on Monday.

Commodity prices again strengthened on Tuesday. Oil prices rose on a tight global supply outlook after U.S. production was hammered by frigid weather and an approaching meeting of top crude producers is expected to keep output largely in check.

Brent crude LCOc1 was up 2.2% at $66.7, a one-year high. Spot gold XAU= rose to a one-week high to $1,815.3 an ounce as inflation worries boosted the bullion's appeal as a hedge.

The strength in commodities kept the Australian dollar AUD=D3 steady at $0.79 against the U.S. dollar, just near a three-year high.

Bond yields have risen sharply this month as prospects of more U.S. fiscal stimulus boosted hopes for a faster economic recovery globally. However that is also fuelling inflation worries, prompting investors to sell growth stocks that have rallied in recent months.

"Real U.S. interest rates are now in positive territory, which has created some concern around the consequences for equities markets," Cesar Perez Ruiz, chief investment officer at Pictet Wealth Management said in a report.

The dollar index =USD was steady at 90.028, with the euro EUR= up 0.090% at $1.2165. The Japanese yen JPY= was little changed versus the greenback at 105.01 per dollar.

Cash Treasuries were not traded in Asia with Tokyo shut for holidays, but futures firmed slightly and showed an implied ten-year Treasury yield of 1.34% TNc1 .

Markets will turn their focus to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell who is delivering his semi-annual testimony on Tuesday. Powell is likely to reiterate a commitment to keeping policy super easy for as long as needed to drive inflation higher, analysts said. addition to the ever-present question of what it may take for the Fed to consider tapering, the most pressing investor interest is at what point the Fed could respond to the level or volatility of interest rates after the recent increases," foreign exchange strategist at Citi said in a note.

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