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Asia stocks slip as risk appetite wanes on rate-hike fears

Asia stocks slip as risk appetite wanes on rate-hike fears

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SINGAPORE: Asian shares fell on Thursday to their lowest since April 2020 as risk appetite among investors faded after inflation data across the globe re-ignited fears of aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell as much as 1.8% to 436.14, before cutting some losses. The index was last down 0.79% at 440.82.

European stock futures indicated stocks were set to decline, with Eurostoxx 50 futures down 0.43%, German DAX futures down 0.45% and FTSE futures down 0.25%.

Japan's yen crept close to the psychological barrier of 150 per dollar after earlier marking a fresh 32-year low of 149.93, while the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note touched a 14-year high, brushing off a weak housing report.

"Yields rose to fresh cycle highs and risk appetite soured," said Taylor Nugent, a markets economist at National Australia Bank in Sydney. Wall Street snapped a two-day streak of gains on Wednesday, while the dollar bounced from two-week lows.

In Asia, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index was 1.12% lower, while Japan's Nikkei slipped 1% lower but spiked higher after Bloomberg reported that China was considering cutting the duration of quarantine for inbound visitors.

China's stock market fell on Thursday while Hong Kong stocks hit levels last seen during the 2008-09 global financial crisis.

China on Thursday kept its benchmark lending rates unchanged for a second straight month as authorities held off unleashing more monetary stimulus to avoid stark policy divergence with other major economies.

In the currency markets, the U.S. dollar firmed as investors flocked to the safe haven after blistering hot inflation data across the world raised the prospect of central banks continuing with interest rate hikes even at the expense of growth.

Sterling fell 0.2% to $1.12005 even as the inflation data showed food prices have jumped the most since 1980. Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss has so far defied calls for her resignation, though markets are increasingly considering the possibility of her imminent replacement.

"It's worth considering whether a call for a General Election might actually be positive for sterling," ING economists said in a note.

The offshore yuan fell to a record low on Thursday. It bottomed at 7.2794 per dollar, the lowest level since such data first became available in 2011, and last traded 7.2615.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari said job market demand remains strong and underlying inflation pressures probably have not peaked yet.

The U.S. central bank is widely expected to raise rates by 75 basis points for the fourth straight time at its November meeting.

Still, the Fed's "Beige Book" survey of economic activity showed that there was there was some easing in several districts, but firms noted price pressures remained elevated.

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