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Marketmind: They get knocked down, but they get up again

Published 03/02/2023, 04:53 PM
Updated 03/02/2023, 04:56 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Visitors take selfie photos as they look at early-flowering cherry blossoms in full bloom at a park in Tokyo, Japan March 1, 2023. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
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By Jamie McGeever

(Reuters) - A look at the day ahead in Asian markets from Jamie McGeever.

A heavy dose of economic data on Friday, including service sector PMIs from several countries and inflation figures from Japan's capital Tokyo, rounds off a remarkable week, with Asian stocks on track for their first rise in five weeks.

This is despite another week of even higher U.S. bond yields and Fed interest rate expectations, and deteriorating relations between the U.S. and China.

The MSCI Asia ex-Japan Index is on track for its first weekly rise in five. Perhaps because it had fallen nearly 10% over the preceding four weeks, it was primed for a technical or short-covering rebound.

Wednesday's 2% surge following China's stunning manufacturing PMI data for February accounts for all of that rebound so far, but Wall Street's remarkable resilience on Thursday should give it extra impetus.

Although yields jumped again on Thursday following upward revisions to U.S. labor costs and surprisingly strong euro zone inflation, the three major U.S. stock indexes surged 0.7% to 1.0% on Thursday. (Graphic: S&P 500 daily changes - https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/znvnbxnlyvl/SNPDAILY.png)

What's going on?

Perhaps stocks are making a bet that policymakers won't raise rates as aggressively as rates markets are implying. Maybe it's a play that rising nominal rates are merely matching inflation and inflation expectations, so policy isn't so tight in real terms and growth isn't suffering.

Maybe stocks were just so beaten down last year that investors are still buying any and every dip, maybe short-term options-related activity and trading around key technical levels - the 200-day moving average on the S&P 500, for example - are also at play.

 

(Graphic: China Caixin services PMI - https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/zdpxdxkqmpx/ChinaPMI.jpg)

 

As well as the positivity stateside, traders in Asia will be hoping for encouraging readouts from February service sector purchasing managers index reports from Japan, Australia, India and, most importantly, China.

Investors will also be watching the dollar, which rose across the board on Thursday, spurred on by higher U.S. yields. Perhaps significantly, the euro had its biggest fall in a month - a sign that traders don't think the European Central Bank will be unable or unwilling to raise rates much in the face of sticky inflation?

Here are three key developments that could provide more direction to markets on Friday:

- China services PMI (February)

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Visitors take selfie photos as they look at early-flowering cherry blossoms in full bloom at a park in Tokyo, Japan March 1, 2023. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

- Japan Tokyo inflation (February)

- Fed's Logan, Bowman, Barkin and Daly scheduled to speak

 

(By Jamie McGeever; Editing by Josie Kao)

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