Asian shares rise on tech boost; yen on intervention watch

By Thomson Reuters Apr 23, 2024 | 10:06 PM

By Ankur Banerjee

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asian stocks rose on Wednesday, tracking Wall Street, as an after-hours surge in shares of EV maker Tesla following its promise of new models, and upbeat earnings from some U.S. companies lifted risk sentiment.

The yen was rooted near 34-year lows, keeping traders wary of possible intervention from Tokyo.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 1.55%, having climbed 1% on Tuesday, as stocks rebounded from last week’s steep selloff. Japan’s Nikkei surged 2%.

China stocks were mixed, with the blue-chip index flat, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 1.6%.

Tesla kicked off the earnings season for U.S. tech megacaps, announcing the launch of new electric vehicle models that sent its shares up 12% in extended trading.

U.S. stocks closed higher on Tuesday as companies such as automaker General Motors reported strong earnings. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.27%. [.N]

The earnings-packed week includes results from tech giants Meta Platforms, Alphabet and Microsoft, and will likely set the tone for the near term.

“Expectations are also set for upcoming earnings from major U.S. tech companies like Meta, potentially maintaining a positive atmosphere in the tech sector ahead of these releases,” said Anderson Alves, a trader with ActivTrades.

Beyond corporate earnings, traders are focused on the U.S. gross domestic product figures and the March personal consumption expenditure data – the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge – due later this week to gauge the path of U.S. rates.

Markets are now pricing in September to be when the Federal Reserve would deliver its first rate cut, with expectations of 43 basis points of cuts this year. At the start of the year, traders had priced in 150 bps of easing for the whole year.

The drastic shift has elevated Treasury yields and lifted the dollar in the past few weeks but on Wednesday they were subdued following data that showed U.S. business activity cooled in April to a four-month low due to weaker demand, while rates of inflation eased slightly even as input prices rose sharply.

“The surprisingly soft PMI numbers suggest the US economy will lose some momentum in the second quarter,” said Tony Sycamore, a market strategist at IG.

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes was at 4.613% on Wednesday, having dipped to as low as 4.568% on Tuesday following the economic data.

The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against six peers, eased 0.066% to 105.60 after a 0.424% drop on Tuesday. [FRX/]


The Japanese yen was last at 154.79 per dollar, not far from the 34-year low of 154.88 it touched on Tuesday ahead of the Bank of Japan’s two-day policy meeting that concludes on Friday.

The dollar/yen pair, which is extremely sensitive to U.S. yields, has traded in an extremely narrow range, with traders wary that a push above 155 could raise the risk of dollar-selling intervention by Japanese officials.

Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki issued on Tuesday the strongest warning to date on the chances of intervention, saying last week’s meeting with U.S. and South Korean counterparts had laid the groundwork for Tokyo to act against excessive yen moves.

The United States, Japan and South Korea agreed to “consult closely” on foreign exchange markets in their first trilateral finance dialogue last week, acknowledging concerns from Tokyo and Seoul over their currencies’ recent sharp declines.

Japan last intervened in the currency market in 2022, first in September and again in October, to prop up the yen.

IG’s Sycamore said if the U.S. core PCE inflation is hotter than expected, “the market will quickly take advantage of the supportive yield backdrop and push the pair towards 156.00”.

U.S. crude fell 0.1% to $83.28 per barrel and Brent was at $88.31, down 0.12% on the day. Oil prices gained on Tuesday as investor focus shifted away from tensions in the Middle East. [O/R]

Spot gold dropped 0.2% to $2,317.39 an ounce. [GOL/]

(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)