Yellen remarks spook Wall Street
US Treasury Secretary (and former Federal Reserve Chairperson) Janet Yellen likely wants to take a mulligan after her comments last night about interest rates. Ms Yellen stated that interest rates may have to rise to prevent the economy from overheating. However, she couched that by saying the additional government spending was small relative to the size of the economy. The equity markets reacted with sharp losses. The retreat continued later in the day, with Ms Yellen saying a rise in interest rates was not something she was predicting or anticipating, but the damage was already done.
The Yellen-induced tech-rout overnight has mostly passed Asia by this morning, with the region refusing to follow Wall Street this week slavishly with heavyweights, China and Japan, on holiday until tomorrow. US index futures have all edged higher by around 0.30% this morning, somewhat steadying the ship.
If US markets are having a noisy tail-chasing week, symptomatic of investors nerves after a one-year plus bull market on steroids, regional markets are mixed. The Kospi has risen 0.65% and Taiex by 0.35% as the semi-conductor darlings enjoy the sunshine on a quiet news day. Covid-19 restrictions weigh on Singapore once again, with the STI down 0.90% while Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur are unchanged while Jakarta has edged 0.35% higher.
Australian markets have rallied once again as ANZ posted bumper results, Services PMI rose to 58.80, and Building Permits exploded higher by 17.40% as commodity prices continued to rise overnight. The avalanche of positive news sees the ASX 200 rising 0.75%, while the All Ordinaries has added 0.55%.
Asia’s nagging Covid-19 fears have dampened spirits this week. Still, they should not be enough to stop Europe from opening modestly higher today as movement and travel restrictions on both the continent and the UK look set to be eased, in contrast to Asia.