TOKYO — Asian share markets slipped on Wednesday as investors faced up to the possibility of aggressive monetary tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve to fight inflation, while focus was also on new Western sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. Treasury yields hit multi-year highs and stock markets were red after Fed Governor Lael Brainard said overnight that she expected a combination of interest rate rises and a rapid balance sheet runoff to take U.S. monetary policy to a “more neutral position” later this year.
In morning trade in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei shed nearly 2.0%, while South Korean shares fell 0.9% and Australian shares lost 0.75%.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan skidded 1.3%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 1.3%, moving away from a one-month high hit on Monday. Shanghai lost 0.1% as markets in mainland China reopened after two days of public holidays.
Activity in China’s services sector shrank at the steepest pace in two years in March as a local Omicron surge restricted mobility and weighed on client demand, a closely watched private sector survey showed on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Chinese authorities extended a COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai to cover all of the financial center’s 26 million people, despite growing anger over quarantine rules in the city.
Investors’ focus on Wednesday will be on the release of minutes from the Fed’s last policy meeting, which they are expected to scrutinize for clues on the prospect of a 50 basis point hike at the U.S. central bank’s next meeting in May.
“It’s currently considered an 80% chance the…
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