World Economy

Asian Markets to End Low Rates

Shanghai reversed early losses  to end up 0.1%.Shanghai reversed early losses  to end up 0.1%.

Asian markets went into reverse Friday after Wall Street and Europe suffered hefty losses in response to central banks’ signals that the end to the era of cheap-money was drawing to a close.

After years of loose monetary policies designed to navigate global economies out of the financial crisis, improving growth and easing unemployment have allowed banks to start flagging tightening measures including interest rate hikes, AFP reported.

While the upbeat outlook is welcomed as a sign of optimism—Asian markets rallied on Thursday—there are concerns the world economy can withstand a more stringent borrowing environment.

Wall Street’s three main indexes ended deep in the red, while European stocks were also well down.

The selling seeped through to Asia with heavy losses in technology firms continuing while banks were hit by profit-taking.

Tokyo ended 0.9% lower, Hong Kong fell 0.7%, Sydney sank 1.7% and Singapore shed 0.6%. Wellington, Taipei and Bangkok were also well down. Shanghai reversed early losses to end up 0.1% following data showing a forecast-beating jump in an index of Chinese manufacturing.

The official reading of the purchasing managers index indicated the world’s number two economy was stabilizing, although analysts voiced concerns about an ongoing growth slowdown.

In early European trade London fell 0.2%, Paris added 0.1% and Frankfurt was flat.

The shift by central banks out of their easy-money policies—led by Britain, the European Central Bank and Canada—has also weighed on the dollar.

For years the greenback has benefited from a divergence between the Federal Reserve’s move to higher rates—including to rate hikes this year—and other regions. But analysts said the mood is changing.

“A game changer of a week as hawkish central bank commentary steamrolled the markets,” said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA. “Traders are now contemplating who will be next to join the lineup. No one wants to miss out on this party realizing there’s a coordinated policy shift afoot and the chance to catch the removal of an easing bias is far too seductive for traders to ignore.”

Talk of tighter ECB rates has pushed the euro to more than one-year highs while the pound has also benefited, despite political uncertainty in Britain. Both currencies dipped in Asia but held on to most of their recent gains.

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