Australia RBA meeting minutes, oil and currencies

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets were mostly buoyant on Tuesday while bitcoin continued to rise after a recent rebound. Australia’s central bank says inflation will peak by the end of the year ahead ahead of a meeting minutes release this morning.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was 1.67% higher while the Topix rose by 1.72%. The Kospi in South Korea was also in positive territory, trading 0.13% higher.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.14%, and the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.12%.

Ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s meeting minutes release, Governor Philip Lowe said in a speech that he expected inflation in Australia to peak at around 7% by the end of the year as pandemic-related supply chain disruptions resolve.

Lowe said monetary policy tightening and interest rate hikes globally would work together to drive down inflation by creating a balance between the demand and supply of goods.

“Achieving that balance is not straightforward and there are risks involved, but higher interest rates will lessen the current inflationary pressures,” he said, adding that Australia should expect more rate increases with the RBA committed to charting back to inflation levels of 2% to 3%.

Elsewhere, European Central bank President Christine Lagarde reiterated plans to raise the ECB’s interest rates twice this summer, and stressed its 2% inflation target, according to Reuters.

“These decisions underpin our previous commitments to adjust all of our instruments within our mandate, incorporating flexibility if warranted, to ensure that inflation stabilizes at our 2% target over the medium term,” Lagarde said, according to the report.

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US markets are set to return to trade on Tuesday after a holiday on Monday. The major averages last week suffered their 10th losing week in 11 on fears that the central bank will hike rates aggressively to tame inflation at the risk of causing an economic downturn. The S&P 500 dropped 5.8% last week for its biggest weekly loss since March 2020, dipping deeper into bear market territory.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency bitcoin rose on Monday after falling below its 2017 high over the weekend. It climbed above the $20,000 mark for much of the day. On Tuesday during Asia trading hours, bitcoin last rose 2.74% to around $20,638, according to Coin Metrics data.

Currencies

The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 104.407.

The Japanese yen traded at 135.05 per dollar weakening from levels above 134. The Australian dollar was at $0.6981, still soft against last week’s trade of above $0.70.

Oil prices were higher this morning with the international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.04% to $115.32 per barrel. US crude futures also increased by 1.82% to $111.55 per barrel.

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