HONG KONG: Most Asian markets rose Friday while the pound was steady after the Bank of England announced a post-Brexit interest rate cut and surprise stimulus, while traders await the release of key US jobs data.
Regional investors pressed on with Thursday’s rally after the British central bank met expectations by cutting borrowing costs for the first time in seven years, to a record low of 0.25 percent.
While the move had been widely tipped, BoE policymakers also unveiled an emergency package worth up to £170 billion, including £60 billion for more in bond-buying, or quantitative easing (QE).
The bank had flagged a rate cut after Britain’s shock vote on June 23 to leave the European Union, which it said would hit the country’s economy. As such, it slashed its growth outlook for next year and 2018.
The news sent sterling plunging Thursday to $1.3114 in New York, from around $1.33 earlier in Asia. In early Tokyo trade Friday it was at $1.3125.
But while the pound tanked, European markets rallied, with London’s FTSE 100 adding 1.6 percent.
And the positive sentiment flowed through to Asia, where Tokyo ended the morning 0.1 percent higher, while Hong Kong added 1.0 percent, Sydney gained 0.4 percent and Seoul put on 0.5 percent. The Nikkei 225 finished the day down 0.44 points at 16,254.45.
There were also gains in Taipei and Wellington but Shanghai edged down 0.2 percent.
The measures out of London also came as a relief after a string of disappointing announcements from global central banks from Tokyo to Europe that came up well short of expectations and dampened buying sentiment.
Attention now turns to the US, where July jobs creation figures will be released later in the day, and will provide the latest snapshot of the world’s top economy and the Federal Reserve’s plans for its own monetary policy.
The “employment number is the catalyst for the market—that’s what is going to rule the pricing trends over the next few weeks”, Jim Davis, regional investment manager at the Private Client Reserve of US Bank, told Bloomberg News.
While June’s reading was a blockbuster that fanned talk of a rate hike this year, the release of below-forecast second-quarter economic growth figures threw cold water on the idea.