recession fears, oil prices, currencies

SINGAPORE — Shares in the Asia-Pacific were mostly higher on Thursday as investors continued to monitor recession concerns.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.63%, and the Hang Seng Tech index gained around 1%.

Mainland Chinese markets struggled for direction but last traded higher. The Shanghai Composite was up 0.33%, and the Shenzhen Component was 0.253% higher.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan was almost flat, and the Topix was upslightly.

South Korea’s Kospi gave up its gains to fall 0.29%, and the Kosdaq declined 1.16%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.34% higher.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down fractionally.

Recession or hard landing fears have taken a firmer hold on most markets in the past 24 hours.

Ray Attrill

head of FX strategy, National Australia Bank

In economic data, Singapore is set to release its inflation numbers on Thursday.

After a bounce on Tuesday, U.S. stocks traded lower overnight.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 47.12 points, or 0.15%, to 30,483.13. The S&P 500 slipped 0.13% to 3,759.89. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.15% at 11,053.08.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday told Congress that the central bank is “strongly committed to bringing inflation back down.” Inflation has hit 40-year highs in the U.S.

“It’s not our intended outcome at all, but [a recession is] certainly a possibility, and frankly the events of the last few months around the world have made it more difficult for us to achieve what we want, which is 2% inflation and still a strong labor market,” Powell said, nonetheless adding that he believes the economy is strong for now.

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“Recession or hard landing fears have taken a firmer hold on most markets in the past 24 hours,” Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

He said no particular events drove the market moves on Wednesday, and commentators largely pointed to “deepening recession fears.”

Oil falls around 2%

Oil futures declined in Asia trade. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark, fell 2.3% to $109.17 per barrel. U.S. crude futures fell 2.64% to $103.39 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 104.22.

The Japanese yen traded at 135.23 per dollar. It weakened to 136 against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar was at $0.6895 after falling from above $0.702 last week.

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