Markets mostly rose Tuesday on bargain-buying following the latest sell-off, but confidence remains at a premium as traders contemplate the prospect of more Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and a possible recession.
Wall Street suffered another day in the red after Friday’s capitulation in response to a warning from US central bank boss Jerome Powell that more tightening was needed to bring inflation down from four-decade highs.
Bets on a third successive three-quarter-point increase next month have surged since his comments, which blew a hole in a recent rally across markets from their June lows.
Now there is a growing fear that the Fed’s priority of beating inflation at any cost will damage the world’s top economy, which is already in a technical recession following two straight quarters of contraction.
“The markets are spooked because they are afraid that the Fed could create a hard landing — that they’ll raise rates into a recession, and that will be really painful for the economy and for corporate profits,” Terri Spath, of Zuma Wealth, told Bloomberg Television.
After Monday’s retreat, Asian equities fared a little better, as bargain buyers jumped back, though sentiment was still weak.
Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Mumbai, Taipei, Bangkok, Jakarta and Wellington all rose.
But Hong Kong, Shanghai and Manila fell.
London, Paris and Frankfurt edged up in the morning.
In light of the sell-off in response to the Powell speech, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said it appeared traders had now accepted the fact that policymakers were focused on fighting price rises.
“People now understand the seriousness of our commitment to getting inflation back down to two percent,” he said.
And Michael Hewson of CMC Markets added: “The effect of higher interest rates as well as the rising cost of living has already started to manifest itself in the most recent lending data.
“It’s been a trend that has been in place since the start of this year, but appears to be accelerating as we head into the autumn.”
While central banks around the world commit to lifting rates to fight inflation, a major driver of the gains continues to cause a headache.
A warning from OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia that it could cut output has put fresh upward pressure on the commodity, offsetting concerns about a hit to demand from any economic slowdown.
Both main contracts dipped in Asian trade but held most of the more than four percent rally enjoyed Monday.
Waning optimism about an imminent Iran nuclear deal, fresh unrest in Libya and China’s economic travails were adding to the oil market’s strength.
“A combination of fresh supply risks from Libya, along with uncertainty over the upcoming OPEC+ meeting, has provided a boost,” said Warren Patterson of ING Groep NV.
But he added that “fundamentally, the market is in a more comfortable state, and in the absence of a large supply disruption or OPEC+ intervention, it is difficult to see significant upside in the short term”.
© Agence France-Presse