Asia-Pacific stocks were mixed in Friday trade, and European markets cautiously head for higher open to end tumultuous week.
The Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 1.77% in afternoon trade, braced for its biggest weekly drop in more than two years, even as the Bank of Japan maintained its massive stimulus. The index has lost almost 7% so far in the week in what would be its biggest drop since the week ended April 2020.
The South Korea’s KOSPI declined 0.71%, the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia slipped 1.76%, and Singapore’s FTSE Straits Times Index was down 0.74%.
China and Hong Kong managed to buck the regional trend with a steady performance. The Shanghai Composite gained 1.05%, and in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index recovered from earlier losses to rise 1.07% by the afternoon.
U.S. stock indexes closed sharply lower on Thursday. The benchmark S&P 500 suffered its sixth decline in seven sessions, dropping 3.25% to 3,666.77. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 2.42%, to 29,927.07, and the Nasdaq Composite falling 4.08% to 10,646.10.
Oil wavered as traders weighed the prospect of slower economic growth against tight supplies, as well as on uncertainty that weighed on markets following numerous interest rate hikes around the world this week. Persisting supply tightness and new sanctions on Iran limited the downside.
Brent crude futures fell 35 cents, or 0.3%, to $119.46 a barrel, while U.S. WTI crude futures fell to $117.16 a barrel, down 43 cents, or 0.4%.
Ending this week, the Brent futures would post their first weekly dip in five weeks, while U.S. crude futures would see their first decline in eight weeks.
Bonds and currencies were jittery after a rollercoaster week. The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 104.479 after pulled back from a 20-year high. Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields fell nearly 10 bps overnight but wobbled higher to 3.244%.
Gold fell on Friday, as a higher dollar and rising US Treasury yields weighed on demand for greenback-priced bullion and put prices on track for their biggest weekly drop since mid-May.
Spot gold dropped 0.62% to $1,846.20 per ounce, and U.S. gold futures dipped 0.10% to $1,848.10.
Gold prices have fallen about 1.5% in what has been a volatile week, after starting it near a one-month peak before hitting a four-week low on Tuesday.
Spot silver fell 0.6% to $21.79 per ounce, and platinum dipped 0.5% to $945.50, while palladium rose 0.8% to $1,893.87. All were headed for weekly declines.
World stocks on Friday are on course for a bruising week, headed for their worst week since markets' pandemic meltdown in March 2020, as investors worried about future economic growth in the face of global rate hikes.
Markets are rounding off a week buffeted by interest-rate increases, as the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark funds rate by 75 basis points, its largest hike since 1994, before the Swiss National Bank surprised markets with its first hike since 2007 and the Bank of England implemented its fifth rate rise in a row.
The European Central Bank announced following an emergency meeting on Wednesday that it plans to create a new tool to tackle the risk of euro zone fragmentation, a move aimed at assuaging fears of a fresh debt crisis for the common currency bloc.
Though Japan, in contrast, stuck with monetary easing Friday. The BoJ maintained ultra-low interest rates and its guidance to keep borrowing costs at "present or lower" levels, signalling its resolve to focus on supporting the economy's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond concerns about tighter monetary conditions, other factors such as the disruptions caused by China’s zero-Covid policy, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war have also further contributed to an uncertain economic outlook.