SYDNEY, RAW – Asian share markets have tried to pick up the pieces following last week’s thrashing as coronavirus concerns showed little sign of abating, while safe-haven flows benefited the dollar before a key update on US monetary policy.
A raft of “flash” manufacturing surveys for August out on Monday will offer an early indication of how global growth is faring in the face of the Delta variant, with analysts expecting some slippage and especially in Asia.
Concerns over China’s economy have only intensified in recent weeks, while Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on the tech sector delivered a double blow to markets.
More than $US560 billion was wiped from Hong Kong and mainland China exchanges last week as funds fretted on which sectors regulators might target next.
The impact was all too evident in MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which sank 4.8 per cent last week to a nine-month trough. Early on Monday, it had limped 0.2 per cent higher but the gains looked fragile.
The rot spread to Japan where the Nikkei shed 3.4 per cent last week to its lowest since January. Bargain hunting helped the index bounce 1.2 per cent early Monday.
“Following a strong V-shaped recovery, there are many signs of slower growth,” BofA’s chief investment strategist Michael Hartnett said.
The spread of the Delta variant also has the potential to upset the timing of the US Federal Reserve’s tapering plans.
Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan on Friday said he might reconsider the need for an early start to tapering if the virus harmed the economy.
“Our base case is that the FOMC will announce a taper in September if the August non-farm payrolls is strong,” said Joseph Capurso, head of international economics at CBA.
“We anticipate the taper will be implemented in October or November, though the recent increase in Covid infections and deaths in parts of the US may give Powell pause.”
That is in market contrast to the European Central Bank which is under pressure to add more stimulus, giving the dollar a leg up on the euro.
The single currency was trading at $US1.1697, after losing 0.8 per cent last week to touch 10-month lows at $US1.1662. That in turn helped the dollar index to a 10-month peak at 93.734 , and it was last trading firm at 93.507.
The dollar made large gains on commodity and emerging market currencies, and turned higher on the Chinese yuan.
It has been more restrained against the Japanese yen at 109.84, which is also benefiting from safe haven flows.
Gold was steadier at $US1,777, following a one-day plunge earlier in August.
Oil had suffered its sharpest week of losses in more than nine months as investors anticipated weakened fuel demand worldwide due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Early on Monday, Brent had edged up 37 cents to $US65.55 a barrel, while US crude added 27 cents to $US62.41.