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Asian Stocks Down, Fed’s Dovish Stance on Inflation Remains Concerning

Stock MarketsMar 18, 2021 11:10PM ET
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By Gina Lee

Investing.com – Asia Pacific stocks were down Friday morning, ending the week in the red as investors remain concerned about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s dovish stance on inflation.

China’s Shanghai Composite was down 0.97% by 11:01 PM ET (3:01 AM GMT) and the Shenzhen Component slid 1.70%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 1.69%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.99% and South Korea’s KOSPI fell 1.03%. In Australia, the ASX 200 was down 0.47%.

The Fed’s stance, as it handed down its policy decision on Wednesday, steadied U.S. Treasury yields after the ten-year benchmark climbed to 1.75% for the first time since January 2020. It has also driven bets on faster inflation and sent market expectations of price pressures to highs not seen in several years.

The Bank of Japan handed down its policy decision earlier in the day, amid speculation that the central bank could adjust the bond-yield target range and asset purchases. The Bank of England also kept its March interest rate unchanged at 0.10% on Thursday.

“Economic recovery is on its way and we have central banks around the world very committed to easy monetary policy,” Tribeca Investment Partners portfolio manager Jun Bei Liu told Bloomberg.

Liu also sees value stocks benefiting in the recovery, adding that “all of that together will indicate this is just short-term profit-taking and the underlying fundamentals of the equity market are looking very strong.”

Investors also braced for quadruple witching, with derivatives of stock index futures, stock index options, stock options, and single stock futures expiring simultaneously and potentially exacerbating swings in asset prices, on Friday.

Also on investors’ radars was Thursday’s face-to-face, high-level talks between the U.S. and China, the first to take place since President Joe Biden took office in January. The talks, taking place in Anchorage, descended into bickering and recriminations over human rights, trade, and international alliances, illustrating that tensions continue to persist in the U.S.-China relationship even after the change in U.S. leadership.

Meanwhile, Europe's COVID-19 vaccination program continues its struggle to gain traction. Adding to doubts about the speed of Europe’s economic recovery from COVID-19, some countries in the region are facing a third wave of COVID-19 cases. One of them is France, which announced a fresh lockdown in Paris and other parts of the country.

However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA)’s endorsement of the AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN)/University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday could see the program get back on track. Some of the countries that suspended usage of the vaccine over concerns about potential side effects, including Germany and France, planned to resume using the vaccine after the EMA’s endorsement.

Asian Stocks Down, Fed’s Dovish Stance on Inflation Remains Concerning
 

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