Asian Stocks Down, With Yield Worries Creeping In

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Investing.com – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly down on Monday morning, giving up earlier gains even as global COVID-19 vaccine programs advance and optimism continues to grow for an economic recovery.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 were up 0.26% by 10:32 PM ET (3:32 AM GMT).

South Korea’s KOSPI edged down 0.16%, with the Bank of Korea to hand down its policy decision on Thursday.

In Australia, the ASX 200 edge down 0.14%. Australia began its COVID-19 vaccine rollout earlier in the day and is set to report no local cases for a third consecutive day. The vaccines also saw Fitch maintain the country’s AAA credit rating, albeit with a negative outlook.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index inched up 0.05%. The city received its first batch of Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s (NASDAQ:SVA) Coronavac vaccine during the previous week, with registration for priority groups set to open on Tuesday.

China’s Shanghai Composite inched down 0.06% and the Shenzhen Component slid 1.21%.

The optimism saw a bond selloff continue Monday, with benchmark 10-year Treasury yields climbing to the highest in about a year and a slide in sovereign debt for both Australia and New Zealand. Progress on the $1.9 trillion stimulus packages proposed by U.S. President Joe Biden also contributed to the selloff.

“Yield curves have continued to steepen, as COVID infection rates decline further, reopening plans are discussed and a large U.S. fiscal stimulus package looks likely,” Barclays (LON:BARC) head of economics research. Christian Keller told Reuters.

“This in principle signals a better medium-term growth outlook for the U.S. and beyond, as other core yields curves are moving in the same direction … meanwhile, central banks seem set to look through this year’s inflation increase, keeping the curves’ front end anchored,” he added.

As vaccine rollouts continue globally, Israel said that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech SE (F:22UAy) seemed to protect most recipients from infection. Although global progress against the pandemic drove investor sentiment up, concerns about the reflation trade driving yields too high are staring to creep in.

Investors will be watching whether Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell shows any signs of concerns over higher long-term borrowing costs when he delivers the Fed’s semi-annual monetary policy report to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.

Across the Pacific Ocean, the Reserve Bank of Australia resumed purchases of three-year securities to defend its yield target.

Investors will also look to a virtual meeting of Group of 20 (G20) finance ministers and central bankers, due to take place on Friday. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will be among the attendees.

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