Asia markets are set to open lower following a tech-led selloff in the US markets amid uncertainty caused by the intensifying Ukraine-Russia war. The Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated his stance to raise the interest rate by 1 quarter percent in the March meeting but by more if high inflation persists. With the CBOE Volatility Index consolidating above 30, choppiness in the stock markets is likely to persist in the short term.
SPI futures are pointing to a 0.8% decline at the open of the S&P/ASX 200, and the NZX 50 was down 5 points in the first hour of trading.
US and EU stocks
The three US major averages all finished lower, dragged down by tech stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.29%, the S&P 500 slid 0.53%, and Nasdaq declined 1.56%.
The growth stocks fell on concerns of supply chain disruptions due to the Russia-Ukraine war. Amazon lost 2.7%, Tesla Motors was down 4.6%, and Advanced Micro Devices fell 5.3%. The airline stocks dipped further after the software giant Aeroflot terminated services to distribute tickets to Russia. Adding to high fuel costs and operation disruption over the war zone, the major US aircraft carriers’ stocks have suffered sharp losses since mid-February, with Delta Airline falling 23%, and United Airline slumping 26% from their February highs.
The defensive sectors outperformed as risk-off sentiment took the lead across the broader markets, with consumer staples and utilities all finishing higher. At the same time, energy lost steam as oil prices paused surging.
On the data front, the jobless claims recorded at 215,000 for the last week were lower than the expectation of 225,000. The February non-farm payroll is due on Friday and will be closely watched.
European markets deepened losses after a one-day rebound. Both Euro Stoxx 50 and DAX fell more than 2%, CAC 40 declined 1.84%, and the FTSE 100 was down 2.57%.
The US government bond yields were slightly down from a day ago. The 10-year US Treasury yield was at 1.885 %. And the 2-year Treasury yield traded at 1.52%.
The EU bond yields were up marginally. Germany 10-year Bond Yield was flat at 0.01%, and the France 10-year Bond Yield up to 0.49%. The UK 10-year Gilt yield rose to 1.3%.
Gold futures were up $US19, to $US1941.6 per ounce, while crude oil prices halt surging.
The WTI futures price retreated to $US108.54 after hitting $US116.50, the highest seen since 2008. Brent futures surged to $US119.52 at the intraday high and pulled back to $US110.91 at the close. The oil prices skyrocketed on worries of a much tighter supply being caused by geopolitical tension. Traders are eyeing if sanctions will be extended to Russia’s oil export while monitoring the progress in the Iran nuclear negotiation, which could bring back at least 1 million barrels of output per day if the deal is made.
The eurodollar weakened further amid the geopolitical uncertainty brought by the Ukraine crisis. The British Pound has also taken a hit. Both currencies were down 0.4% against the USD. Commodity currencies, including AUD and NZD, continue to strengthen with the upside momentum in the commodity markets. The Canadian dollar fell against the greenback as the oil price moderated.
The crypto markets fell for the second day. Bitcoin fell to just above $US42,000 from $US44,000 two days ago, and Ethereum was traded above $US2,800 after topping the $US3,000-mark on Tuesday.