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Dollar, Asia stocks rally on Us Fed rate comments

Dollar Stock and money. Photo: investing-for-the-future

Dollar Stock and money. Photo: investing-for-the-future

Comments from top Federal Reserve officials suggesting a US interest rate rise is still likely this year pushed the dollar and Asian stocks higher Tuesday, as the Fed sought to ease concern about the state of the global economy.

Another rally in Shanghai also bolstered confidence, with the index seeing a third straight day of gains. But the Asian Development Bank flagged concerns about China’s growth, saying it would act as a drag on regional expansion this year.

World markets had tumbled on uncertainty about the global outlook after the US central bank on Thursday delayed announcing a rise, with its head Janet Yellen citing the threats caused by China’s faltering economy as a key reason.

The news sparked fears about the global outlook and about the strength of the US economy itself, which has been steadily getting back on a recovery track.

However, in an attempt to temper the impact of the news, several regional Fed presidents have since sought to reassure dealers, saying they thought the US was in a fit enough state to see a first rate rise by year-end.

Fed Bank of Atlanta president Dennis Lockhart said despite recent volatility in world markets — which followed China’s surprise yuan depreciation in August — he was still confident of a rate lift-off before 2016.

“As things settle down, I will be ready for the first policy move on the path to a more normal interest-rate environment,” he said in a speech in Atlanta. “I am confident the much-used phrase ‘later this year’ is still operative.”

His comments were in line with those of two other presidents who at the weekend put the case for an increase.

All three main indexes on Wall Street ended higher Monday, as did the dollar.

On Tuesday the dollar was at 120.42 yen compared with 119.93 yen in Asia Monday. The greenback was also higher against regional emerging currencies.

The euro weakened against the dollar and yen as the European Central Bank contemplates widening its stimulus programme to try to boost the eurozone economy.

– Fed policy fears –

South Korea’s won slipped 0.38percent, the Thai baht eased 0.20 percent, the Taiwan dollar retreated 0.47 percent and the Malaysian ringgit was 0.15 percent lower. Singapore’s dollar lost 0.16 percent.

Sydney stocks ended 0.74 percent higher and Seoul closed up 0.88 percent. Hong Kong was 1.10 percent higher in the afternoon.

Shanghai finished up 0.92 percent, with dealers in upbeat mood as President Xi Jinping prepares to start a state visit to the United States — amid hopes he will sign several trade agreements.

“Some investors are heartened by optimism over Xi’s visit to the US,” Castor Pang, head of research at Core-Pacific Yamaichi Hong Kong, told Bloomberg News.

“The market is in a cautious mode, keeping a close watch on the progress of talks between the two countries.”

The Asian Development Bank on Tuesday said it had lowered its growth outlook for Asia owing to ongoing weaknesses in China, the world’s number two economy and a key driver of global expansion, as well as soft demand in industrialised nations.

The bank tipped Chinese growth now to come in below the seven percent targeted by Beijing, while reducing its forecasts for the region.

It also warned central banks to prepare for an expected Fed rate rise, with many nations already seeing major capital outflows as dealers look for safer US investments.

A tightening of US monetary policy would also put pressure on Asian central banks to lift rates themselves to try to protect their currencies, at a time when they are struggling to kickstart tepid growth.



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