BENGALURU (Jan 21): South Korea and Taiwan led falls in most of Asia’s emerging stock markets on Friday after US stocks took a hit overnight, while fears that the Federal Reserve may tighten policy more aggressively kept a lid on currencies in Asia.
Shares in South Korea and Taiwan fell 1.4% each, as their tech sectors caught the chill from Nasdaq.
The US dollar took a breather on Friday as rising US Treasury yields stalled, though markets have now priced in four interest rate hikes by the Fed this year, including one as soon as March.
The prospect has also placed Asia’s central banks on watch, leaving policymakers with the difficult decisions of protecting economic recovery in their countries while maintaining stability and stemming potential outflows.
Emerging Asian “economies are not only disadvantaged in access to dollar funding under constraint, but are acutely vulnerable to capital outflows from a double whammy of rising long-end ‘risk-free’ UST (Treasury) yields and rising ‘risk premium’,” Mizuho said in a note.
On Thursday, central banks in Malaysia and Indonesia held their key policy rates steady ahead of the Fed’s Jan 25-26 meeting, where investors will be keenly watching out for hawkish signals.
The rupiah, a popular carry trade for investors, dipped 0.1%, while the ringgit firmed 0.1%.
Some analysts and economists detected a potential shift in Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) from its policy statement.
“The central bank omitted a relatively dovish sentence from its statement, which we interpret as suggesting BNM no longer views policy easing as being more likely than tightening in the near term,” analysts at Barclays said.
Data on Friday showed Malaysian consumer prices in December rose slightly more than expected.
Stocks in Kuala Lumpur dipped on Friday and were heading for their worst week since August 2020 with a more than 2% drop.
Bank Indonesia also surprised with 300 basis points of staggered hikes in the reserve requirement ratio for banks over the next eight months in one of its first concrete signs of monetary tightening.
- Indonesian three-year benchmark yields are up 10.6 basis points at 4.429%
- Malaysia’s three-year benchmark yield is down 1.6 basis points at 2.834%
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