The People's Bank of China left benchmark lending rates unchanged on Wednesday as it balanced economic recovery and yuan weakness. The 1-year loan prime rate stayed at 3.45% and the 5-year rate at 4.20%, after a cut last month. China's economy shows signs of improvement but faces slowing overseas demand, real estate woes, and yield pressure from US rate hikes. Steady rates follow medium-term policy loans staying put, reducing the urgency of easing. But further cuts are likely as widening yield gaps and yuan weakness persist. The ADB trimmed China and Asia growth forecasts on property risks, though the 2023 regional outlook remains resilient. With inflation easing, Asia's policy space opens up, but rate cycles will diverge going forward.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3% on Tuesday as Treasury yields hit their highest levels in over a decade, ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy announcement on Wednesday. The United Auto Workers warned it may expand strikes at Ford, GM, and Stellantis factories if significant progress isn't made by Friday. Instacart shares surged over 40% from their IPO price on their first day of trading as investors showed strong demand for the online grocery delivery company.
Gold prices stuck around $1,930 ahead of major central bank meetings this week, including the Fed, which is expected to hold rates but may point to further hikes given persistent inflation. The BOE and BOJ decisions will also be watched for monetary policy signals, though prices may consolidate ahead of these events.
Oil prices may have risen to 10-month highs due to tighter supplies, but they still remain below the levels that could trigger a US recession. While oil-exporting countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia aim to boost cooperation, the US and G7 continue to try to isolate Russia economically. The Fed's pending rate decision looms over oil markets, though price swings may be limited as policymakers likely accounted for energy prices in their projections as reinflation risk persists.
Asian currencies were largely unbothered as markets braced for a potentially hawkish Fed decision, while the dollar and yen held steady despite warnings from Japan about excessive weakness. The euro and Aussie dollar moved up briefly on central bank news before falling back, with the pound treading water ahead of an expected final BOE rate hike. Investor focus remained fixed on major central bank meetings for any signals about future policy plans that would impact the global market.