Regional investors are also looking forward to data expected to be released on China’s manufacturing sector on Tuesday.
The rally in Asia ran parallel to the surge that ended on Wall Street the previous week. Fed chief Jerome Powell’s speech was crucial as US stocks broke record after record this year, in large part due to the Fed’s massive efforts to prop up the economy and financial markets. Profits had become more and more hesitant as markets began to look to a possible end to Fed support.
Last week Powell noted past mistakes where policymakers took premature steps in the face of what appeared to be high inflation. He made it clear that a slowdown in Fed bond purchases did not mean that an increase in short-term interest rates was imminent. For this, the labor market and inflation would have to make “much stricter” tests more difficult.
“We have a lot to do to get the maximum employment,” Powell said.
One issue that Powell noticed was the delta variant of the coronavirus, which remains a global problem. The Delta variant is behind the recent surge in COVID-19 infections in Asia, where the vaccine adoption has been slower than parts of the US and Europe.
“With the Delta variant still widespread and the slow vaccination campaign, with Singapore being the exception, the way out of the pandemic is unpredictable, with setbacks and periodic closures,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank in Singapore.
The delta variant has already slowed the economy somewhat. In the US, a report released Friday showed the country’s consumer spending rose 0.3% in July compared with June, a sharp slowdown from its 1.1% increase in the previous month. That’s a big deal when consumer spending is the driving force of the US economy and its growth has slowed, even though American income growth accelerated to 1.1% last month.
In energy trading, US crude oil, as a benchmark, lost 68 cents to $ 68.06 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 26 cents to $ 72.44 a barrel.
In forex trading, the US dollar rose from 109.84 yen to 109.85 Japanese yen. The euro was priced at $ 1.1803, down from $ 1.1792.