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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Asian stocks breathe easier, gold near three-month high

By Ian Chua

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian stocks rose and gold hit a near three-month high while the dollar nursed losses on Monday, extending a move started late last week when a steep drop in U.S. new home sales tempered expectations the Federal Reserve will soon reduce stimulus.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.3 percent, adding to Friday’s 0.8 percent gain. Tokyo’s Nikkei climbed 0.3 percent.

The MSCI index still suffered a hefty 2.9 percent drop last week, with much of the heat felt in the region’s emerging markets as investors pulled out of these once high-yielding domain as they positioned for a post-stimulus world.

Indonesia, Brazil and India have scrambled to stem the destabilising outflows that have knocked their currencies sharply lower, with the rupee skidding to record lows recently.

Indeed, global central bankers at the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole policy conference in Wyoming warned on Saturday that global financial stability is at risk as ultra-easy policies that have flooded the world with cash are wound up.

Data out on Friday showing sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell to their lowest in nine months raised doubts about whether the Fed afford to start to pull back next month and gave investors an excuse to buy back severely beaten-down assets.

But Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, warned of more volatility in equity and currency markets ahead.

“We have been calling for the actual taper to start in October as we believe the September meeting will be the blueprint meeting; where the Fed will spell out exactly when, how, with what conditions and with a fluid timeline to completion,” he said.

“It’s the bond market that will show how much of an impact the taper will have. If there is a spike in yields we will see panic trading over the coming months.”

While Friday’s U.S. housing data is helping stocks and gold to recover for now, it weighed on the dollar.

The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was flat at 81.365, having slipped 0.2 percent on Friday.

Against the yen, the dollar traded at 98.80 off Friday’s peak of 99.15, while the euro bought $1.2932, having climbed as high as $1.3410.

Spot gold briefly popped above $1,400 an ounce for the first time since early June, extending Friday’s 1.5 percent rally. It last stood at $1,395.79.

U.S. crude was also bid at $107.05 a barrel, having gained 1.3 percent late last week, partly helped by a rise in gasoline futures following news of a unit shutdown at a Canadian East Coast refinery.

There is not much in the way of market-moving data out of Asia on Monday, while UK markets will be shut for a public holiday.

(Editing by Eric Meijer)

Source: Reuters

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