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EMERGING MARKETS-Asian stocks rise as Powell allays inflation fears, bond markets skeptical

Rashmi Ashok
·3-min read

* Graphic: World FX rates * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks * Indian 10-yr yields elevated despite RBI supportive views * Poll finds bullish positions on INR at over three-year high * Tech-dominated indexes of South Korea, Taiwan surge * Malaysia's stock index surges as corporates show cautious optimism By Rashmi Ashok Feb 25 (Reuters) - Asian stocks rose on Thursday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell soothed nerves over rising U.S. bond yields and calmed inflation worries by reassuring markets for a second day that interest rates would be left unchanged for now. Tech-heavy indexes of South Korea and Taiwan , which faced selling pressure due to worries over high valuations amid the spike in bond yields globally, reclaimed their footing to jump 3.5% and 1.5%, respectively. Powell said it could take more than three years to hit the inflation target, while clarifying that while some asset prices may go up, it wouldn't necessarily lead to inflation and would not warrant a policy response. "There were rising concerns from investors that the central bank may unwind some aspects of its dovish stance, given rising inflation expectations. But, with the Fed to remain so, I think that has given equities the greenlight to continue gaining," said Daniel Dubrovsky, strategist at DailyFX. Bond markets were not entirely convinced by Powell's comments though, with yields on the U.S. 10-year Treasuries closing slightly higher. Bond markets have been largely supported by massive central bank purchases to fund government spending and keep yields from surging, and the prospects of these purchases tapering off continue to weigh on markets. Indian bond markets also appeared to have ignored assurances by Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das on Thursday of continued support for bonds, after the government's massive borrowing programme sparked a sell-off recently. By midday, yields on India's 10-year bonds stood at 6.161%, higher than 6.147% close on Wednesday. Meanwhile, bullish positions on the Indian rupee climbed to a more than three-year high on optimism over economic outlook, a Reuters poll found. Stubbornly high inflation and better growth outlook may prompt the Indian central bank to raise the reverse repo rate twice by 20 basis points in the second half of this year, Deutsche Bank economists said in a note. Malaysian shares surged nearly 2% as relatively resilient earnings and better outlook from lender Malayan Banking, conglomerate Sime Darby and telecoms provider Axiata helped lift their shares. Philippine equities did not trade on account of a local holiday. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Bullish bets raised on yuan, rupiah, Singapore dollar; Views on Philippine peso hit as government extends COVID-19 restrictions. ** Top gainers on the Singapore STI include Sembcorp Industries Ltd up 6.63% and Singapore Airlines Ltd up 6.18%. ** Top gainers on the Jakarta stock index include Bank Ganesha Tbk PT up 34.62% and Bank Artha Graha Internasional Tbk PT up 34.4%. Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0750 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDE STOCKS STOCK DAILY YTD % X DAILY S YTD % % % Japan -0.19 -2.66 <.N2 1.67 9.93 25> China EC> India -0.16 +0.87 <.NS 0.83 8.05 EI> Indones +0.00 -0.28 <.JK 0.59 5.16 ia SE> Malaysi +0.05 -0.45 <.KL 1.60 -2.75 a SE> S.Korea 11> Singapo +0.11 +0.24 <.ST 1.60 4.48 re I> Taiwan +1.89 +2.53 <.TW 1.48 11.67 II> Thailan -0.10 -0.33 <.SE 0.79 3.69 d TI> (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Anushka Trivedi; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)