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The Japanese yen remains near its 34-year low of around 151.95 per US dollar hit last week, despite repeated warnings from Tokyo about the yen's slide. The Japanese finance minister reiterated warnings to yen bears on Tuesday as Japan tries to prevent a destabilizing currency fall. While initially shocked by stronger-than-expected US manufacturing data raising doubts about Fed rate cut timing, markets seem to be taking evidence of economic strength in their stride. Investors remain wary of a higher-for-longer rates narrative, but most analysts think the Fed is more concerned with easing inflation and the labour market. European stock markets are set for a higher open after holidays, with the STOXX 600 index closing at a record last week. Investors will watch European manufacturing and inflation data to assess the economy's health and the ECB's likely rate path. A growing number of ECB policymakers support rate cuts, with June seen as the most likely timing according to economists polled by Reuters.

 

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Asian shares rose overnight, with the Nikkei gaining 1.6%, as the Japanese yen weakened against major currencies. The yen's decline is seen as safe by investors, given the threat of intervention capping the dollar's rise versus the yen at 152. Currencies like the Canadian dollar hit 16-year highs against the yen, aided by higher oil prices. Commodities like copper and gold also rallied, with copper reaching a 13-month peak, potentially boosted by China's measures to promote auto sales and EV purchases. Gold topped $2,300 an ounce, attracting momentum buyers concerned about rising government debt levels. The oil price rise could exacerbate inflation pressures for central banks. OPEC+ maintained its output cuts, while Fed Chair Powell reiterated rate cuts are coming if data allows. However, Fed officials giving speeches on Thursday may differ on the rate outlook. Market pricing suggests a June start to Fed cuts is expected, though the anticipated pace and depth of cuts has moderated. Treasury yield rises hint at a higher neutral rate perception. Upcoming US data on jobless claims today and nonfarm payrolls tomorrow will be closely watched.

 

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With no data of note on today's economic calendar, a quiet session is likely to follow Friday's volatile Non-Farm payrolls day which led to a recovery in equity indices. Much stronger-than-expected US payrolls pushed back Fed rate cut expectations for the June meeting to around 50% (from over 60% previously). US treasury yields are trading back at levels last seen in November while the US dollar is depreciating once more and the gold price hits a new record high. Earlier this morning German exports dropped more than expected but industrial output growth topped forecasts. This week will see the ECB's, RBNZ's and BOC's April monetary policy meetings as well as the publication of the FOMC minutes.

 

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- KoketsoIG

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US inflation data surprised markets by coming in 0.1% higher than expected, driving yields and the dollar back up to pre-Christmas highs. This has increased focus on whether the European Central Bank will signal an upcoming rate cut, potentially as soon as June, at its policy meeting today. Unlike the U.S., eurozone inflation unexpectedly fell in March amid economic stagnation and a softening labour market. If the ECB flags a June rate cut, it would put European policymakers ahead of the Fed, which markets don't fully price in for a cut until November. This had supported the euro leading up to the meeting. The dollar's broad strength has also pressured the yen past the 152 level versus the dollar that had prompted past intervention talk from Japan. China faces yuan weakness despite efforts by its central bank to steady the currency. Fitch also cut its outlook on China's sovereign rating amid tensions with the US over manufacturing capacity. Commodity prices like oil have risen, adding to inflation pressures. 

 

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- KoketsoIG

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A generally weak session in Asia overnight saw the Hang Seng tumble 1.5%. Yesterday's ECB meeting left investors expecting that central bank will be the first to cut rates, with June the likely point. The BoE is expected to follow in August, and the Fed in September, a sharp change from the start of the year, when markets were forecasting a March rate cut. The Japanese yen remains near 34-year lows against the US dollar, prompting intervention warnings from Japan's finance minister. European equities are set for another weekly decline, while the start of the U.S. earnings season with big banks reporting could impact market direction.

 

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Fears of a wider regional conflict in the Middle East weighed on market sentiment overnight, though a higher open is expected for the Dax. This flight to safety was triggered by news of an Iranian strike on Israel with hundreds of drones and missiles, raising concerns over potential Israeli retaliation. Safe-haven assets like gold and the US dollar strengthened, though the Japanese yen weakened to a 30-year low against the dollar, highlighting that interest rates remain the primary market focus despite geopolitical risks. Oil prices dipped in Asian trading as the risk of Iranian retaliation was already priced in last week. While the US has stated it will not take part in a counter-offensive against Iran, the volatility index remains near five-month highs, reflecting heightened market nervousness. Any further oil price increases could add to inflationary pressures, complicating central banks' efforts to control rising consumer prices. This week, markets will closely watch US economic data releases, including retail sales and comments from Federal Reserve officials, for clues on the monetary policy outlook amid persistent inflation concerns. The US earnings season is also underway, with mixed results from major banks getting the season off to a lacklustre start.

 

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- KoketsoIG

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Rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and expectations of higher US interest rates for longer have dampened risk appetite in financial markets. This led to a sell-off in Asian stocks, a strengthening US dollar, and further weakness in the Japanese yen to levels not seen since the mid-1990s against the dollar. European markets are expected to open sharply lower, with a focus on UK labour and wage data for clues on when the Bank of England may start cutting rates. Markets see August as most likely for BoE rate cuts to begin. The Federal Reserve is seen as unlikely to rush rate cuts after strong US retail sales data. Market pricing now sees less than two Fed rate cuts in 2024 instead of the six expected earlier. Safe-haven flows are boosting demand for the US dollar and gold amid Middle East tensions. China's GDP beat estimates but weak March data raised concerns about its economic recovery. UK employment data showed a rise in the unemployment rate for February, to 4.2%, while wage growth remained steady at 5.6%. 

 

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Mainland Chinese stock markets bucked the broader selloff trend in Asian markets on Wednesday. China's CSI 300 index rose 0.5%, while the CSI 2000 small-cap index surged 5.3%. This came after the Chinese securities regulator stated that companies not complying with calls to increase dividend payouts will not face mass delistings, providing relief. In contrast, Japan's Topix index fell 0.9% despite strong March trade data showing rising exports. UK inflation data showed consumer prices rose 3.2% annually in March, higher than expected at 3.1%, renewing debate on when the Bank of England may start cutting rates. Core UK inflation eased to 4.2% from 4.5% in February but was still above the 4.1% forecast. In the US, stocks closed lower for the third straight session on Tuesday. The S&P 500 slid 0.2% and Nasdaq lost 0.1% after Fed Chair Powell warned rates may need to stay higher for longer to tame inflation.

 

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Financial markets had a rough week amid escalating tensions in the Middle East after reports of explosions and a possible Israeli airstrike in Iran. This added to investor concerns following disappointing corporate results and hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials. The news from Iran drove up prices for safe-haven assets like gold, the US dollar and Japanese yen, while stocks fell and bonds rallied. Comments from a Fed official warning rates may need to go higher if data calls for it also rattled investors who had been expecting rate cuts later this year. Tech shares fell sharply after chipmaker TSMC lowered its outlook for the sector, disappointing investors. UK retail sales were flat in March. 

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Asian markets are rallying on reduced tensions between Iran and Israel, with the rally expected to spread to Europe, especially lifting the FTSE 100 around 1%. Investors are moving back into riskier assets like stocks and selling safe-havens. However, geopolitical risks remain with a rocket attack on a US base in Syria. Beyond the Middle East, lingering concerns over potential Fed rate cuts later this year and caution over chip earnings are weighing on stocks after last week's selloff. In Japan, the tech-heavy Nikkei lagged the broader Topix's gains. All eyes are on the Bank of Japan meeting on Friday for new inflation forecasts, though no imminent rate hike is expected. For the US, Friday's PCE inflation data is key ahead of next week's Fed meeting, with policymakers signalling no rush to cut rates. Meanwhile, ECB officials are increasingly backing a June rate cut, though disagreeing on the subsequent pace of easing. The French central bank chief said policy easing should happen soon "barring surprises", but then proceed at a "pragmatic pace", highlighting the emerging split at the ECB.

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- KoketsoIG

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Asian stocks, led by tech shares, rallied sharply on Wednesday as investors shifted focus to upcoming earnings from major US tech companies like Meta, Alphabet and Microsoft. Tesla's shares surged 12.5% after-hours as it promised new electric vehicle models, despite missing Q1 expectations. This boosted sentiment in Asia's tech sector. The Japanese yen remained depressed near 34-year lows against the US dollar around 154.85, keeping traders wary of potential intervention by Japanese authorities. Broad gains were seen across Asian markets like Taiwan, South Korea, Japan's Nikkei and the MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan index. China and Hong Kong stocks were mixed. The risk-on rally is expected to extend to Europe with futures pointing to a higher open. Apart from tech earnings, markets are also eyeing US GDP and core PCE inflation data this week for clues on Fed rate path. US Treasury yields and the dollar index eased after data showed a cooling in US business activity and inflation pressures in April. The Australian dollar jumped on hotter-than-expected inflation data, prompting removal of rate cut bets for this year. Oil prices were largely flat as geopolitical tensions offset economic concerns.

 

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The yen trades at 34-year lows versus the US dollar as the Bank of Japan kicks off its two-day monetary policy meeting. USD/JPY reached the June 1990 peak at ¥155.56 while EUR/JPY is fast approaching the October 2007 high at ¥167.74. Asian stocks were mixed and a lower open is expected for European stock markets following disappointing after-hours Q1 US earnings by the likes of Meta Platforms which dropped by 15%. In the US preliminary Q1 GDP, initial jobless claims and pending home sales are on the agenda while in Europe German Bundesbank President Nagel will speak at 4:15pm ahead of Friday's US PCE inflation data release.

 

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The Japanese yen slid to new multi-decade lows before stabilizing amid high volatility, fueling speculation that the Bank of Japan may have intervened to support the yen while Japanese markets were closed for a holiday. European stock indices are expected to open in positive territory, following in Asia's footsteps and as the S&P 500 recorded its best week since November 2023. Germany's Consumer Price Index will be closely monitored on Monday ahead of this week's US FOMC meeting and Friday's Non-Farm Payrolls.

 

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Asian shares rose on Tuesday while the yen wobbled amid a suspicion that Japanese authorities had intervened in currency markets to support the yen. However, the government did not confirm whether it had actually taken action to prop up the currency. Top currency diplomat Masato Kanda said the government will disclose the results of any market operations at the end of next month and will continue taking appropriate action in the foreign exchange market as deemed necessary.
Caixan China manufacturing growth hit a 14-month peak while investors look to German, French and Eurozone preliminary Q1 GDP growth, inflation and retail sales data ahead of Wednesday's US FOMC meeting.

 

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Key stock indices ended the day in the red on Tuesday and in after-hours trading Amazon, AMD and McDonald's had mixed results while US yields and the US dollar rose ahead of today's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. The main focus is on Jerome Powell's press conference and what signals he gives about future interest rate policy. The expectation is he will strike a cautious but hawkish tone on inflation, given recent economic data has challenged the Fed's soft landing scenario. On the data front are UK and US manufacturing PMIs, the US ADP's non-farm estimate, job openings, mortgage applications, EIA's inventory estimates and, of course, the FOMC monetary policy meeting at which no rate cut is expected to be announced.

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Asian stocks surged to their highest level in 15 months on Friday, led by gains in tech and Hong Kong stocks. The Japanese yen put more distance from its recent 34-year lows against the US dollar, capping a volatile week that saw suspected intervention by Japanese authorities to support the yen. With Japanese and Chinese markets closed on Friday, regional trading activity was subdued ahead of nonfarm payrolls data later in the day. The yen strengthened 0.43% to 152.99 per dollar on Friday, after touching a 34-year low of 160.245 on Monday. Traders suspect Japanese authorities spent roughly $60 billion to defend the yen this week. The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, was set for a 0.8% decline this week, its worst weekly performance since early March. The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged this week and signalled that its next policy move will be to lower rates, although strong inflation readings suggest the first cut could be a long time coming. In after-hours trading, Apple's stock surged nearly 7% after reporting better-than-expected quarterly results and unveiling a record share buyback program.

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Asian shares, measured by the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index, hit 15-month highs on Tuesday, boosted by renewed confidence in US interest rate cuts. The weaker Japanese yen and a small dip in the Australian dollar kept the US dollar steady. The Reserve Bank of Australia left interest rates unchanged as expected, but suggested little risk of another hike, causing the Australian dollar to slip 0.4% while the stock market rose. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was set to snap a 10-day winning streak with a 0.9% loss, though markets in Taiwan and South Korea advanced. The Asia-Pacific index excluding Japan gained 0.3% and Japan's Nikkei rose 1.3%. European and US futures pointed to a positive day, supported by last week's softer US jobs data and comments from Fed Chair Powell reiterating that the next rate move will likely be a cut. The yen weakened further to around 154.60 per dollar. Oil prices rose slightly while wheat, corn and soybean prices hit multi-month highs on concerns over unfavourable weather conditions.

 

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- KoketsoIG

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Asian stocks declined on Wednesday while the US dollar strengthened, despite lower Treasury yields. The MSCI Asia-Pacific index outside Japan dropped 0.4%, with Chinese and Hong Kong stocks down around 0.6%. Japan's Nikkei fell 1.4% as traders took profits. The Japanese yen fell sharply even as authorities threatened currency intervention to support it. Oil prices remained near two-month lows amid easing supply concerns and hopes for a Middle East ceasefire. US equity futures were flat while European futures are higher, with the FTSE 100 sitting at a record high. Mixed comments from Fed officials about whether rate cuts are needed this year continue to keep investors on edge, with Neel Kashkari of the Minneapolis Fed questioning whether stubbornly-high inflation would mean that a rate hike remained a possibility. A quiet day lies ahead, with earnings season in a lull and only US weekly crude oil inventories likely to be of interest.

 

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Asian shares steadied on Thursday as solid Chinese trade data showed domestic demand in the world's second-largest economy is picking up. The yen also stabilised after three days of declines, as Japan reiterated potential for currency intervention. Investors are awaiting the Bank of England's interest rate decision later today, watching for prospects of a June rate cut after Sweden's Riksbank unexpectedly lowered rates, highlighting Europe's divergence from the hawkish US Federal Reserve. The MSCI Asia-Pacific index rose 0.1%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.2%, boosted by China's April imports jumping 8.4% year-on-year, beating forecasts. The Japanese yen steadied at 155.55 per dollar after falling for three sessions, as authorities reiterated readiness for currency intervention. However, Japan's real wages fell 2.5% in March, limiting scope for aggressive policy tightening.

 

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Asian markets rose on Friday, extending gains for the third straight week, while the US dollar was steady as signs of easing in the US labour market raised expectations of interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year. MSCI's Asia-Pacific index outside Japan rose 0.66%, while Japan's Nikkei added 0.37%. China stocks dipped on geopolitical concerns over a new US trade restriction list. The pound was steady around $1.2515 after the Bank of England opened the door for potential rate cuts as early as next month. US jobless claims rose more than expected last week, adding to signs of labour market softening after slower job growth and easing wage pressures in April data. Oil prices rose, with US crude up 0.68% to $79.80 per barrel and Brent crude up 0.6% to $84.38.

 

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Asian shares hit a 15-month high ahead of important inflation data from the US and Chinese economic activity data that could impact expectations for rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. China reported a pickup in inflation to 0.3% annually in April, easing deflation concerns. Forecasts show further gains expected in April retail sales and industrial output data due Friday. Much hinges on the US April inflation report, with a lower reading boosting odds of a Fed rate cut as soon as July, while a higher print could push a rate cut out past September. Other key US data this week includes producer prices, retail sales, jobless claims, as well as final European inflation reports expected to reinforce ECB rate cut expectations in June.

 

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Asian markets hovered around 15-month highs on Tuesday ahead of highly-anticipated US inflation data. Japanese bond yields rose as the central bank pulled back slightly on its bond-buying program, with the 10-year yield hitting 0.95%, the highest since November. Hong Kong stocks extended their rally into a fourth week, lifting the MSCI Asia-Pacific index ex-Japan to its highest since early 2023. The surge in Hong Kong's Hang Seng index to 30% above January lows is fueled by optimism over positive demand signals and potential stimulus spending by authorities. Overnight, the S&P 500 was steady just below record peaks. A New York Fed survey showed Americans see higher inflation expectations for the next year. All eyes are on Wednesday's US CPI data to see if upside inflation surprises in Q1 were temporary or a concerning trend. Core CPI is expected to slow to 3.6% annually in April. The dollar strengthened, with USD/JPY hitting a monthly high of around 156.4 as traders suspected potential currency intervention by Japanese authorities. This afternoon's US PPI data is being viewed as a warm-up for tomorrow's closely watched CPI figure. 

 

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- KoketsoIG

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Asian stocks rose on Wednesday while the US dollar drifted lower as investors assessed mixed US producer price data and awaited the crucial CPI report, which could influence the Federal Reserve's near-term policy path. European stock futures also pointed to a higher open. The MSCI Asia-Pacific index outside Japan hit a fresh 15-month high, with Japan's Nikkei also advancing. US producer prices rose more than expected in April, however, Fed chairman Jerome Powell called the data "mixed" rather than "hot" due to prior downward revisions, reassuring investors that the next move was unlikely to be a rate hike. All eyes are now on today's US consumer price data.  The Nasdaq Composite closed at a record high overnight, with the S&P 500 and Dow also rising on Powell's comments. 

 

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- KoketsoIG

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Asian stock markets rallied on Thursday, boosted by Wall Street hitting new all-time highs overnight after a lower-than-expected US inflation report raised expectations for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates twice this year. The US dollar weakened to fresh multi-week lows against other major currencies, while Treasury yields extended declines to six-week lows, helping the Japanese yen recover ground even as data showed Japan's economy contracted more than expected in Q1. Gold prices marched back toward record highs and crude oil added to gains after rebounding overnight from a two-month low. The US consumer price index rose 0.3% in April, below the 0.4% expected, fueling hopes the Fed could cut rates by 50 basis points this year starting with a 25bp cut in September. The softer inflation print renewed optimism about the Fed achieving a "soft landing" and supported risk assets like stocks while pressuring the US dollar.

 

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Stocks in Asia edged lower overnight as the impact of Wednesday's CPI data began to wane. Cooling price data may give hope of rate cuts this year, but Fed officials have been in no rush to declare success in the battle against inflation.  
Markets are pricing in around 47 basis points of rate easing from the Fed this year, with a rate cut fully priced in for November. MSCI's Asia-Pacific index outside Japan fell 0.36% but was still up 2% for the week. European futures signaled a lower open. The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq hit record highs before paring gains as Fed officials reiterated the need for restrictive policy while the dollar headed for its biggest weekly decline against the euro in over two months as rate cut bets rose. Chinese property developer shares rose on hopes for more measures to stabilize the sector after data showed the fastest home price drop in over 9 years. A quiet end to the week sees little in the way of economic data this afternoon

 

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