Most Asian markets rise as earnings come into focus

A man walks past a stock quotation board at a brokerage in Tokyo on Feb 26, 2021. (Reuters photo)
A man walks past a stock quotation board at a brokerage in Tokyo on Feb 26, 2021. (Reuters photo)

Most markets rose in Asian trade on Wednesday as investors shook off a forecast-topping US inflation print and concerns over Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, instead turning their attention to the earnings season, while bitcoin hit another record.

Hopes are high for the latest round of corporate reports — which starts in earnest in the US later in the day — as the global economy recovers and businesses reopen, with analysts saying they will be keeping an eye on outlooks and executives’ views on potential US tax reform measures, among other issues.

“On the back of a convincing string of economic data beats, the economic acceleration should be a powerful tailwind for stocks this quarter and ensure earnings growth,” said Axi’s Stephen Innes.

“Indeed, earnings tailwinds look set to outweigh concerns around supply chain shortages and rising commodity prices. Importantly, positive earnings and sales revisions have been broad across sectors and industries. Even more so as the Fed continues to leave the policy dial on maximum dovish setting.”

Wall Street provided another healthy lead, with the S&P closing at yet another record, with news that consumer prices rose more than expected having little impact.

Observers pointed out that traders accepted that inflation would come in on the high side for a few months owing to the low base effect from last year at the start of the pandemic, while optimism over the worldwide recovery was the dominant feature.

Bitcoin hits new record

There has been a worry in recent months that the expected strong global recovery will send prices racing higher and force central banks to taper the ultra-loose monetary policies that have help spur a year-long equity rally.

US 10-year Treasury yields, which have risen to around one-year highs on expectations of higher interest rates in future, eased back after the inflation data.

“This would appear to suggest that for all the recent concerns about rising inflationary pressure, the general consensus would appear to be that for now it is being considered transitory,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

Hong Kong jumped more than one percent along with Jakarta, while Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Taipei, Manila and Wellington also rose. Tokyo and Singapore dipped.

London and Frankfurt were flat in early trade, while Paris rose.

US traders initially sold off, in response to news that US authorities had recommended pausing the J&J shot owing to blood clot fears, which was then followed by the firm saying it would delay its European rollout.

The move comes as AstraZeneca’s jab has raised similar concerns, and deals a blow to the global immunisation rollout. However, analysts pointed out that other vaccines were seeing no problems.

Pfizer also said it had enough production capacity to produce more than two billion doses this year.

Bitcoin hit a all-time high of $64,869 ahead of the much-anticipated debut of the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange on the Nasdaq later in the day.

Key figures around 3.10pm

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4% at 29,620.99 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 1.4% at 28,900.83 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.6% at 3,416.72 (close)

London – FTSE 100: FLAT at 6,892.08

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2% at 33,677.27 (close)

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