Asian stocks edge upwards as focus turns to US inflation data

Singapore — Asian stocks rose on Tuesday as traders in Korea returned from holidays in a mood to catch up on a global bounce, while other markets held steady ahead of US inflation data that will offer a crucial guide to the interest rate outlook.

Wall Street indices posted a fourth straight session of gains overnight, while the US dollar retreated further from milestone highs, partly on hopes that the prices data, due on Tuesday, might offer another signal that inflation has peaked.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.6%, led by a 2% jump for South Korea’s Kospi. Japan’s Nikkei tacked on 0.3%.

S&P 500 futures were flat, as were European futures. Easing oil prices have markets optimistic that headline inflation will steady or slow in the US, and that this can reduce the need for future interest rate hikes.

Analysts warn that core inflation is likely to march on, however, and that the near-term rate implications are unclear.

“It’s too early to be celebrating the end of inflation, as some market participants seem already to be doing,” said ING economist Rob Carnell.

US crude is hovering below $90 a barrel, down nearly 30% since the middle of June and about where it traded before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Interest rate futures imply a 90% chance that the US Federal Reserve lifts its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points at next week’s policy meeting, a position that is perhaps most vulnerable to a downside consumer price index (CPI) surprise.

“The market-implied probability of a third 75-basis point rate hike for September has increased noticeably in recent days,” said NatWest Markets’ US rates strategist Jan Nevruzi.

“Results close to expectations for the August CPI report may not change the outcome too much in terms of the market’s expectation,” he said. “If officials do decide to go with another 75 basis points, more than our long-standing call for 50 … we suspect policymakers emphasise how they are front-loading hikes.”

Asia data out on Tuesday offered a cloudy picture of regional economies. A 9% year-on-year jump in Japanese wholesale prices points to pressure on corporate margins, yet a slowdown in gains for August holds some hope of relief.

In New Zealand rate hikes which began a year ago are starting to bite, sending home prices down 6% since last August.

The investment banking world is also offering a counterpoint to stock markets’ enthusiasm. Goldman Sachs is mulling job cuts, a person familiar with the plans told Reuters overnight.

Buyout giant KKR is refusing to improve a takeover bid for Australian hospital operator Ramsay Health Care .

In currency markets the dollar is off recent peaks. Tailwinds from last week’s European rate hike have the euro extending a bounce and above parity at $1.0127.

Even the battered Japanese yen is having a breather at 142.57 per dollar — a bit stronger than last week’s 24-year low at 144.99 with some investors closing bets on a further slide as risks of official intervention increase.

US treasury yields rose overnight after some lacklustre auctions. Selling was heaviest at the very long end, with the 30-year yield up about 6 basis points to about 3.5%.

Benchmark 10-year yields steadied at 3.3405% in Tokyo trade on Tuesday, beneath the two-year yield of 3.5506%.

Gold and cryptocurrencies have crept higher on the softening dollar. Spot gold last held at $1,723 an ounce, while bitcoin was at $22,245.