Asian markets fall on rate fears as bond yields rise


Asian markets fell across the board Wednesday following Wall Street's lead after robust US employment data and rising Treasury yields exacerbated fears that interest rates will be higher for longer.

The labour report, known as JOLTS, showed a surprise increase in the number of job openings to 9.6 million, a sign of continued tightness in the market and fuelling worries of a further rate hike by the federal Reserve before year's end.

The report comes ahead of Friday's highly anticipated September US employment report.

Following the JOLTS report, 10-year US Treasury note yields climbed to levels last seen in 2007.

Treasury bond yields are seen as a proxy for US interest rates and are closely watched.

All three major US indices closed in the red, falling by more than one percent.

"Stock market investors were sent reeling after US job openings unexpectedly rebounded in August, adding to concerns that the Federal Reserve could hike rates in November but unquestionably maintain elevated borrowing costs for an extended duration," said SPI Asset Management's Stephen Innes.

Tokyo and Seoul, which resumed trade after a long holiday weekend, led the Asian selloff Wednesday, both falling around two percent, while Hong Kong, Taipei, Jakarta, Singapore, Sydney and Wellington were all sharply lower in a sea of red.

Markets in mainland China were closed for a week-long holiday.

"It is difficult (for investors) to move towards bargain-hunting as yields in US Treasury notes keep climbing," analyst Shutaro Yasuda of Tokai Tokyo Research Institute said.

On forex markets the yen was trading at 149.28 to the dollar after hitting 150.16 in London on Tuesday, its weakest level in a year.

Japan's top finance officials declined to comment Wednesday on whether Tokyo had intervened to support the yen after it had breached the psychological 150 level.

In recent months, the yen has plummeted against the dollar in part because of the widening gap in interest rates set by the Bank of Japan and the US Federal Reserve.

- Key figures around 0245 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.9 percent at 30,634.89 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.9 percent at 17,168.94

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0461 from $1.0477 Tuesday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2065 from $1.2087

Euro/pound: UP at 86.71 pence from 86.68 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 149.28 yen from 149.86 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $90.87 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: FLAT at $89.21 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 1.3 percent at 33,002.38 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,470.16 (close)



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