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Asia stocks mixed as investors grapple with higher rates

Asia stocks mixed as investors grapple with higher rates © Reuters. A passerby is reflected on an electric monitor displaying the graph of recent moments of the Japanese yen exchange rate against the U.S. dollar outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan May 2, 2023. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File photo

By Julie Zhu

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asia stocks traded mixed on Wednesday and benchmark U.S. Treasury yields were near multi-year highs, as investors sour on both stocks and bonds amid worries about the impact of higher-for-longer interest rates.

The further rose after hitting a 10-month high on Tuesday, while the Japanese yen came closer to a key level where Japanese officials are seen as potentially intervening to shore up the currency.

Profits at China’s industrial firms fell 11.7% in the first eight months from a year earlier, official data showed on Wednesday. In Australia, inflation picked up in August, driven by a surge in fuel prices, but the gain was in line with expectations.

A Bank of Thailand rate decision is due later in the day.

Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1%. The index is down 3.7% so far this month. U.S. stock futures, the , were up 0.13%.

Australian shares were down 0.25%, while stock index slid 0.47%.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was 0.41% higher in early trade. Hong Kong’s advanced 0.8%.

On Tuesday, Wall Street’s major stock indexes followed Asian and European equities lower as investors continued to digest last week’s indication from the Federal Reserve that it would keep rates higher for longer than investors had previously expected.

The Dow posted its biggest one-day percentage drop since March, while all three major averages ended at their lowest closing levels in well over three months.

The fell 1.14%, the lost 1.47% and the dropped 1.57%.

In currencies, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies of other major trading partners, advanced 0.085% to 106.3, after hitting 106.21 on Tuesday, the highest since Nov. 30. The European single currency was down 0.1% on the day at $1.0564, having lost 2.56% in a month.

The Japanese yen remained weak versus the greenback at 149.06 per dollar. The dollar’s strength against the yen in particular has kept traders on alert for an intervention to prop up the Japanese currency, especially after Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said no options were off the table.

The 150 yen per dollar level is seen by financial markets as a red line that would spur Japanese authorities to act, as they did last year.

” traded in a fairly narrow range overnight and is currently trading just above 149. Higher U.S. Treasury yields and recent dovish comments from Bank of Japan (BoJ) officials have weighed on USD/JPY,” CBA analysts said in a note. “We see a high risk the BoJ intervenes soon to prop up the JPY.”

In treasuries, benchmark 10-year Treasury yields have climbed to 16-year highs in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s hawkish longer-term rate outlook last week. The yield reached 4.5274% on the day, compared with its U.S. close of 4.558% on Tuesday.

The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 5.0603% compared with a U.S. close of 5.077%.

Oil prices settled higher after reaching a two-week low earlier in Tuesday’s session, as investors weighed expectations of tighter supply against demand concerns stemming from an uncertain economic outlook.

ticked up 0.34% to $90.7 a barrel. rose to $94.26 per barrel.

Gold was slightly higher. was traded at $1901.204 per ounce. [GOL/]

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