US Yields Surge, Asia Stocks Fall Amid Fed’s Hawkish Stance
US Treasury yields hit a fresh 16-year high, reaching 4.552%, marking levels not seen since October 2007. This surge was driven by the Federal Reserve and other major central banks signaling that interest rates would remain elevated for an extended period. Consequently, the US dollar held near a 10-month high, with the US dollar index reaching 106.10, its highest since November 30, before settling at 106.00.
In response to the soaring yields and a strong dollar, Asia-Pacific stock markets faced declines. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped by 0.33%. Tokyo’s Nikkei fell by 0.7%, South Korea’s Kospi slid 1%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.3%. Mainland Chinese blue chips opened flat.
US stock futures pointed to a 0.3% decline, following a 0.4% rise in the S&P 500 overnight. Traders now consider the likelihood of another quarter-point Federal Reserve rate hike by January to be a toss-up, and they have postponed expectations for rate cuts until the summer.
Westpac strategists anticipate further increases in yields in the near term, which would also strengthen the dollar. They foresee 10-year yields potentially peaking around 4.75% in the coming weeks. Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee noted that the risk of persistent inflation above the Fed’s 2% target outweighed concerns about the Fed’s tightening policy hindering the economy.
The US economy’s relative outperformance, compared to the stagnation in the eurozone and Britain, has supported the dollar against those currencies. The euro edged down to US$1.05855, nearing its overnight low of US$1.0575, last seen in mid-March. Sterling also slipped to US$1.22065, approaching Monday’s six-month low of US$1.21945. The dollar remained near an 11-month peak of 148.97 yen, raising the possibility of Japanese authorities intervening in the currency markets.
Gold remained relatively stable at around US$1,915, after falling from above US$1,947 over the past week. Crude oil continued to weaken due to concerns that central banks would keep interest rates elevated for an extended period, potentially impacting fuel demand. Brent crude futures were down 11 cents at US$93.18 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures traded 1 cent lower at US$89.67.