Hong Kong, China—Asian markets rose in limited trade Tuesday following another strong lead from Wall Street fueled by a rebound in tech firms, while comments from Federal Reserve officials eased concerns that it will embark on an aggressive phase of policy tightening.
US equities rallied for a second day with plenty of support coming from Apple’s blowout earnings report last week, while the current reporting season has proved fruitful despite concerns about inflation and central banks withdrawing financial support.
The Wall Street surge came at the end of a volatile month characterized by speculation over the Fed’s plans to get a grip on runaway prices, with fears that its new hawkish tilt could see it hike borrowing costs as much as seven times this year with a 50 basis point move in March.
Comments from some leading figures at the bank at the weekend added to expectations the policy board would go hard and fast, though some were out on Monday trying to play down such a move.
Atlanta Fed boss Raphael Bostic said he was not in favor of such a big hike next month, having told the Financial Times at the weekend that his colleagues had not ruled it out.
Meanwhile, Kansas City Fed President Esther George said it was in “no one’s interest to try to upset the economy with unexpected adjustments”, and the head of the San Francisco arm, Mary Daly, added that measures “have to be gradual and not disruptive”.
The Nasdaq soared more than 3 percent, paring losses for January to nine percent, having at one point been down almost 15 percent during the month, while The S&P 500 and Dow also chalked up healthy gains.
And the positive energy continued in Asia, with Tokyo, Wellington, Mumbai and Bangkok all up.
Sydney also ended in positive territory as the Australian central bank decided against hiking interest rates to battle inflation, instead just announcing the end to its bond-buying stimulus from next week.
However, business was thin across the region owing to the Chinese New Year break that saw Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Seoul, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta closed.
There was also hope that the rally could indicate markets are finding a bottom after the recent sell-off.
“The back-to-back consecutive rise in US stocks has got some thinking whether the trough has passed,” said National Australia Bank’s Tapas Strickland.
“Despite the talk of higher rates, earnings so far have been much better than expected. Whether we have passed the trough is uncertain, but certainly for some value is re-emerging.”
And Solita Marcelli, at UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a commentary: “Investors should not lose sight of the fact that the economy remains strong, which should limit downside from current levels.”
Traders are now awaiting policy decisions by the Bank of England and European Central Bank this week, while US jobs creation data due Friday could provide a fresh look at the world’s top economy in light of inflation and rate hike expectations.
Oil prices extended their recent rally on demand optimism and the Russia-Ukraine standoff that is fanning worries over a possible hit to supplies. OPEC and other major producers’ decision not to boost output by more than current levels was also a factor, analysts added.
“January has been a great month for oil prices and $100… might not be too far away as expectations are high that supply will not come close to catching up with demand as OPEC+ will deliver gradual production increase targets that they will fall short of reaching,” said OANDA’s Edward Moya.