Morning Chronicle - Asian markets rise but inflation, Ukraine fears linger

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Asian markets rise but inflation, Ukraine fears linger
Asian markets rise but inflation, Ukraine fears linger / Photo: Tomas CUESTA - AFP/File

Asian markets rise but inflation, Ukraine fears linger

Asian stock markets mostly rose in early trade Thursday after a recovery on Wall Street, but investors remained cautious about the ongoing impact of skyrocketing inflation and the war in Ukraine.

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Prices were already soaring in major economies when Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves through the global energy, food and commodity markets.

Despite lingering concerns about the US Federal Reserve's next moves to contain prices, Wall Street enjoyed a buoyant session -- especially the tech-rich Nasdaq, which surged 2.0 percent.

Asia was in a similar mood Thursday as Tokyo soared 1.3 percent and Hong Kong put on 0.8 percent. Sydney, Shanghai and Taipei were also in positive territory, but Seoul dipped.

South Korea's central bank on Thursday raised its key interest rate to the highest level since August 2019 to tame rising inflation.

Analysts warned overnight that the uncertainty is far from over.

"With a thicker fog of war starting to roll in and engulf the global markets again, it is another worrying setup amid the widespread bearish sentiment out there," Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a note.

Data this week from the United States -- the world's biggest economy -- and Britain showed inflation at levels not seen in decades.

Analysts said, however, that markets had welcomed an indication that US inflation may be approaching its peak.

- 'Countervailing forces' -

The grim outlook was reflected in the latest earnings report from JP Morgan Chase, the largest American bank by assets.

"There's this very strong underlying economy," its chief executive Jamie Dimon said.

But he pointed to "countervailing forces", including rising interest rates, inflation and the war in Ukraine.

"And those things are going to collide at one point, probably sometime next year," he said in a conference call with reporters.

"I'm not predicting a recession... But is it possible? Absolutely."

Both main oil contracts hovered above the $100 per barrel mark, with fears swirling about global supply constraints over the invasion of Ukraine by Russia -- a major producer of oil and gas.

"The oil complex is heavily fixated on the short-term," Vandana Hari of Singapore-based Vanda Insights told Bloomberg News.

"The prospect of an EU ban on Russian oil will keep the market on edge as long as Ukraine festers."

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.3 percent at 27,182.50

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.8 percent at 21,535.37

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 3,203.94

Euro/dollar: DOWN at 1.0888 from $1.0894 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3117 from $1.3109

Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.01 pence from 83.03 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 125.62 from 125.59

Oil - Brent: DOWN 0.7 percent at 108.05 per barrel

Oil - WTI: DOWN 0.8 percent at 103.41 per barrel

New York - Dow: UP 1.0 percent at 34,564.59 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,580.80 (close)

-- Bloomberg News contributed to this story --