Asian stocks rose on Wednesday

Asian stocks rose Wednesday following fresh records on Wall Street after Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell fanned hopes of an interest rate cut by saying the battle against inflation had made “progress” and the job market was cooling.

After a run of above-forecast data and warnings from central bank officials suggesting monetary policy would remain elevated for some time, the remarks provided fresh optimism that a reduction — and possibly two — was on the way before the end of the year, reports BSS.

Still, that was not enough to help the euro against the dollar as traders fret over weekend polls in France that could see the far-right take power, which some warn could put the European Union’s second-biggest economy on a collision course with the bloc.

Speaking at a forum in Portugal on central banking, Powell said the Fed had
“made quite a bit of progress in bringing inflation back down to our (two
percent) target, while the labour market has remained strong and growth has

“We want that process to continue.”

He also pointed to “substantial” work on softening the labour market, a key target among decision-makers. Key non-farm payrolls report will be closely followed Friday, with investors hoping for a slowdown in hiring that could give the Fed room to cut.

Powell said the two percent goal could possibly be reached “maybe late next year” or in 2026. The consumer price index came in at 3.3 percent in May, having peaked at a four-decade high above nine percent in 2022.

Futures traders believe there is a roughly 70 percent chance of a rate cut by mid-September, while it is more likely than not that it will make a second cut by the end of the year, according to CME Group data.

The prospect of borrowing costs finally coming down from their 23-year highs in a few months helped push Wall Street higher, with the S&P ending above 5,500 points for the first time and the Nasdaq closing at a record.

And Asia continued the rally, with Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Manila all more than one percent higher, while Sydney, Seoul,, Mumbai, Bangkok, Wellington and Jakarta were also in the green, though Shanghai fell.

London, Paris and Frankfurt opened up.

On forex markets the euro was unable to build on recent gains against the dollar that had come earlier in the week on the back of Sunday’s first-round legislative ballot that showed France’s far-right might not garner enough seats to win an absolute majority.

There is a fear that a win for the National Rally (RN) of Marine Le Pen in the second round this weekend will see it introduce a budget that could cause a rift with Brussels, sparking fresh uncertainty in the European Union.

However, while President Emmanuel Macron’s centrists and left-wing parties embark on horse-trading to thwart the RN, analysts warned investors to be wary.

This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
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