Asia Markets Calm, Dollar Dips Lower

Wall Street's Sideways Shuffle Continues In Asia

Wall Street endured another sideways session overnight, as the Masters of the Universe digested lower than expected US inflation numbers. The S&P 500 edged 0.03% lower; the NASDAQ lost 0.25%, but the Dow Jones rose 0.20% as some residual cyclical rotation persisted.

It will likely be an uneventful day throughout Asia, with the celebration of the Lunar New Year holidays. Japan has a national holiday, and China, ex Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan are all closed today. Tomorrow most of the rest of Asia joins them, although the ever-diligent Japanese will be back at their desks. With much lower than average liquidity, headline-driven volatility spikes are the only thing likely to awaken Asian markets from their slumber.

Those markets that are open today in Asia are mostly gently lower, as investors take some exposure of the books into the Lunar New Year break. The Hang Seng up 0.45%, with Singapore 0.12% lower while Jakarta is 0.33% higher with Kuala Lumpur up 0.16% and Bangkok down 0.57%. In Australia, the day is mixed. The All Ordinaries have eased 0.16%, while the ASX 200 is unchanged.

There were no fireworks between the US and China, as Presidents Biden and Xi had a cordial telephone conversation. With most major markets closed in Asia, European stocks are likely to continue the sideways shuffle, awaiting North America’s arrival.

The US Dollar Edges Lower

Currency markets had a non-descript session, content to digest this week’s fall by the US dollar. US yields eased after the US inflation data release and that pushed the greenback slightly lower, the dollar index finishing almost unchanged at 90.43. EUR/USD and USD/JPY were hardly changed, and the AUD/USD continues to flirt with the top of its symmetrical triangle, hinting that further gains next week lie ahead.

Asian currencies remain firm into the holidays with the PBOC intent on keeping USD/CNY in a 6.4000/6.5000 range over the one-week break. Until USD/CNY breaks that range one way or another, Asian currency markets will content themselves by orbiting near the yuan’s event horizon. To put it more succinctly, bring a good book.

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