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Asia-Pacific stocks rise; India’s central bank hikes key rate by 50 basis points, as expected

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific rose in Wednesday morning trade as investors look ahead to the Reserve Bank of India’s latest interest rate decision expected later today.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan advanced 0.94% while the Topix index climbed 1.08%.

Japan’s economy shrank an annualized 0.5% in the first quarter, revised government data showed Wednesday — an improvement over the initial estimate of a 1% contraction.

There is little doubt that the RBI will continue with further tightening at this scheduled meeting.
Vishnu Varathan
Head of Economics and Strategy, Mizuho Bank

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index jumped 1.22% as shares of Alibaba surged close to 5%. The Shanghai Composite in mainland China edged 0.19% higher while the Shenzhen Component climbed 0.128%.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.32%. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.78%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.88% higher.

The Reserve Bank of India is set to announce its latest interest rate decision later on Wednesday. That comes on the back of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s surprise 50 basis points rate hike on Tuesday.

“With inflation accelerating even more sharply than expected to 7.8% for April … there is little doubt that the RBI will continue with further tightening at this scheduled meeting,” Mizuho Bank’s Vishnu Varathan wrote in a Wednesday note.

He added that the bank’s base case is for a hike of 35 basis points to lift the repo rate to 4.75% — that would take it to a cumulative 75 basis points hike since May, he said. The repo rate refers to the interest rate that the central bank lends to commercial banks.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 climbed 0.95% to 4,160.68. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 264.36 points, or 0.8%, to 33,180.14. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.94% to 12,175.23.

The World Bank on Tuesday cut its global growth forecast to 2.9% for 2022 and warned of the world economy slipping into a period of stagflation reminiscent of the 1970s.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 102.519 after seeing an earlier low of 102.387.

The Japanese yen traded at 133.03 per dollar, weaker than levels below 132 seen against the dollar yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.7227 following yesterday’s bounce from levels below $0.72.

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.26% to $120.88 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.28% to $119.74 per barrel.

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