Asian shares open higher as Fed#39;s Powell nixes inflation fears


Asian stocks perked up on Thursday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reaffirmed interest rates would stay low, calming market fears that higher inflation might prompt the central bank to tighten the monetary spigot.

“The dovish influence from the Fed is going to continue to resonate over in Asia. That’s really good for emerging market assets when we’ve got a really good impulse from the Fed,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.90% in early trade while Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 1.37%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures rose 0.92%.

In a second day of testimony in Washington, Powell reiterated the Fed’s promise to get the U.S. economy back to full employment and to not worry about inflation unless prices rose in a persistent and troubling way.

Crude oil climbed to fresh 13-month highs after U.S. government data showed a drop in crude output as a deep freeze disrupted production last week.

Gold prices struggled for traction as elevated Treasury yields eroded the allure of bullion as an inflation hedge.

The dollar hit fresh three-year lows against the pound and commodity-linked currencies including the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars, which are expected to benefit from a pick-up in global trade as growth rebounds.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.12%, as rising stocks on Wall Street pushed the global benchmark to reverse early losses.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average set a record high rising 1.35% to 31,961.86 while the S&P 500 gained 1.14%. The Nasdaq index, which fell as much as 1.3% earlier in the session, regained its footing by early afternoon and closed up 0.99%.

Shares of GameStop Corp, at the center of a volatile retail trading frenzy moves in late January, more than doubled in price in late trading and continued to soar in heavy, post-market trade.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine appeared safe and effective in trials, paving the way for its approval for emergency use as soon as this week.

Johnson & Johnson rose 1.3% following the news, seen as another boost to a strong recovery.

The dollar index fell 0.083%, with the euro up 0.02% to $ 1.2167. The Japanese yen weakened 0.03% versus the greenback at 105.91 per dollar.

Oil prices rose after U.S. government data showed a drop in crude output as a deep freeze disrupted production last week.

U.S. crude recently rose 0.3% to $ 63.41 per barrel and Brent was at $ 67.31, up 2.97% on the day.

Spot gold dropped 0.1% to $ 1,802.72 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 0.30% to $ 1,802.00 an ounce.