Stocks in Asia dropped for the first time after three days of gains as the dollar strengthened against its basket of rival currencies on prospects for a United States interest rate hike.
Japanese shares and the yen fluctuated as market players weighed whether a better than expected economic growth will reduce the need for stimulus.
All industry groups on the Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia Pacific Index retreated on Wednesday, which slumped on all but three days over the last three weeks.
Meanwhile, the yen traded near its month’s low, as a measure of the dollar’s health surged to its highest level since March, while South Africa’s rand and South Korea’s won slid by at least 0.7 percent.
Global equities have struggled to extend climbs since hitting this year’s high on April 20 as market players scrutinize United States data for signs on the timing of the Federal Reserve’s next interest rate hike.
Federal Reserve Funds indicated that the odds of a June hike increased to 12 percent in Tuesday as central bank officials commented on prospects for borrowing costs to be increased and United States data indicated sudden inflation and a pick-up in new home construction. Officials will publish the minutes of its April policy meeting on Wednesday.
According to a market analyst, “Fed officials have come out all sounding hawkish. That tone is likely to continue.”
Japan’s economy soared an annualized 1.7 percent last quarter, surpassing forecasts for a 0.3 percent growth and averting a recession.
The figures support the Bank of Japan’s unexpected decision at its last meeting to continue to add more monetary stimulus. Market’s focus is now shifted to whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will push ahead with a planned sales tax hike.
Japan’s shares were boosted on Monday by a Nikkei newspaper report over the weekend that the government was planning to hold the tax increase.
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