Asian stocks post small weekly gain as U.S. inflation awaits

Asian shares were poised to post gains for the last full week of the year on Friday, while the dollar expected to lose as investors see 2024 as a year of sharp U.S. interest rate cuts.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3% in early trade. The index rose very slightly during the week. Bank shares helped Japan’s Nikkei gain 0.2%. The euro surpassed $1.10.

Markets have been in a celebratory mood for weeks as global inflation data showed a slowdown and the Federal Reserve signaled it was done raising interest rates.

Two-year U.S. Treasury yields lost nearly 38 basis points in a week and a half and fell 2 basis points overnight as U.S. third-quarter core PCE inflation was revised down to 2%.

Markets are bracing for a downside surprise in the last key reading before Christmas, November’s personal consumption expenditure index due at 1330 GMT with consensus expectations for a 0.2% monthly rise.

“Analysts believe it should be no more than 0.2 percent,” National Australia Bank head of foreign exchange strategy Ray Attrill said in Sydney.

“Could we get 0.1%? It would probably take a 0.1% increase for the moves we’ve seen to continue.”

U.S. stocks rebounded overnight after a sharp drop at the end of Wednesday’s session, with the S&P 500 up 1%.

The index is less than 2% from its all-time high.

S&P 500 futures were flat in Asia, although Nike shares fell nearly 12% in after-hours trading after the company cut its sales forecast and accused consumers of “being cautious.”

European futures rose 0.1%.

Oil was expected to post a weekly gain on jitters about the safety of shipping in the Red Sea, but prices fell overnight after Angola said it would quit OPEC, raising questions about the producer group’s efforts to curb global supplies.

Brent crude futures rose 12 cents to $79.49 a barrel in Asian trading on Friday, marking a weekly gain of 3.8%.


In the foreign exchange market, the dollar was under pressure from markets expecting a rate cut of more than 150 basis points in 2024.

At $1.1002, the euro gained 1% this week, although similar rate cuts are expected in Europe next year. The common currency is also around 1% against the pound, which has fallen sharply this week after a surprise drop in inflation.

Sterling was set for its biggest weekly decline in three months against the euro and Australian dollar. It last bought at $1.2686 and traded at 86.71 pence per euro.

The dollar index fell 0.8% this week to 101.81. It decreased by 2.4% year-on-year. Among the G10 currencies, the best performer for the year was the Swiss franc, which rose almost 8% against the dollar, while the yen fell the worst at 7.8%.

NAB’s Attrill noted that the parallel movement of the two so-called “safe” currencies underscores the overwhelming influence of the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) monetary policy. This kept interest rates negative while the rest of the world raised interest rates.

Politicians discussed communication around a possible departure from those parameters in December, minutes of Friday’s meeting showed. However, data showing a slowdown in the pace of core inflation in Japan partially eases the pressure to rush.

Hong Kong shares rose 0.4% on Friday. Gold is expected to end next week and year with a 12% year-over-year gain at $2,049 an ounce.

Bitcoin is up 160% this year to $44,161.

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