HONG KONG: Tokyo stocks rallied on Wednesday as the yen fell further against the dollar on US interest rate talk but most other Asian markets struggled as investors were spooked by the prospect of higher borrowing costs in the world’s top economy.
Dollar demand has intensified since Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen on Friday hinted at a possible hike as data point to continued economic improvement.
Figures showing US consumer confidence at its highest level in almost a year provided further evidence of a brighter outlook.
On Tuesday the Fed’s vice chairman Stanley Fischer told Bloomberg TV that any movement in rates was dependent on data, adding that “employment is very close to full employment”.
Focus is now on Friday’s key jobs creation report, which could be pivotal in the Fed’s decision-making ahead of next month’s policy meeting, although there are some reservations about whether a move will be made then.
“The Fed’s more upbeat mood and a summer of record highs on Wall Street have boosted the US dollar’s yield appeal,” Sean Callow, a senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in Sydney, told Bloomberg News.
“Payrolls is certainly very important, though there are strong indications that seasonal factors will ensure the headline reading will not provide the Fed with the slam dunk it needs for a September hike.”
In afternoon trade the dollar bought 103.32 yen, up from 103.02 yen New York. It is also sharply higher than Tuesday’s 102.42 yen in Asia and last week’s levels below 100 yen. The euro also fell to $1.1134 from $1.1143 in US trade.