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Asian Indices & Oil Markets Respond to Inflation Concerns

Plus500 | Tuesday 21 February 2023

The ongoing saga of inflation concerns and their impact on a range of global market sectors is continuing in full force this week. In anticipation of yet another round of interest rate hikes, investors on trading floors all over the world are making their mark on price movements.

Oil Price Chart

Consumer Price Rises Continue

The latest figures released to the public by the United States’ Bureau of Labor Statistics on February 14th may have come as an unpleasant surprise to many. While December 2022 saw a rather modest rise in consumer prices of 0.1%, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for January of this year showed a quintupling of the prior month’s figures.

Accordingly, many who have their eyes on the fluctuations of American monetary policy may be preparing themselves for the prospect of a further hike in interest rates from the Federal Open Market Committee. With the Consumer Price Index revealing an annualised inflation rate of 6.4%, exceeding market expectations, a further bump in the U.S. interest rate’s basis points could seem more likely than not.

Although the details of the Federal Reserve’s next interest rate decision won’t be known until March 22nd, markets already seem to be reactive. On Tuesday morning, key Indices across Asia saw drops in share values. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index had dropped by nearly 1.7% as of the time of writing, while the Tokyo-based Nikkei 225 (Japan 225) fell 0.2% by the ring of the closing bell. Whether these declines spread to Wall Street today remains to be seen.

Oil Shifts Downward

One of the modern economy’s most important Commodities also seemed to be on the back foot amid concerns about growth. With hopes regarding strong economic growth throughout the rest of the year perhaps becoming somewhat dampened by the prospect of the Fed’s monetary tightening cycle continuing into the spring, Oil traders pushed prices down this morning.

As of the time of writing, Crude Oil (CL) has declined by over 0.7%, while international benchmark Brent Oil (EB) has fallen by just under 0.5%. Global supplies of black gold are still high, while the possibility that economic growth the world over could be held down by high interest rates may have Oil market participants downgrading their expectations for demand in the coming months.

Furthermore, the Federal Reserve’s turn to the hawkish side of the monetary policy spectrum has strengthened the U.S. dollar; the U.S. Dollar Index (DX), which measures the greenback’s value against ten other major national currencies, has risen 2% so far in February.

With the Dollar taking flight, the Crude Oil purchases needed to keep the global economy running become more expensive for those trading in other currencies, perhaps having an effect on demand. Whether these shifts on the Oil market will change the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries’ decision calculus is as yet unknown; the choice to maintain existing cuts in output may have been influenced by the post-COVID economic recovery in China, but if global demand takes a hit, the cards may be in for a reshuffle. (Source:The National News)

All in all, it seems that the recurring themes of central banks’ struggle against stubborn inflation having an effect on a range of market sectors is set to continue in the near term; however, surprises could always be lying in wait.

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