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Asian markets open higher as investors weigh Wall Street losses

AFP . Hong Kong
02 May 2023 09:38:58 | Update: 02 May 2023 10:09:42
Asian markets open higher as investors weigh Wall Street losses
People walk past an electronic display showing the Hang Seng Index in the Central district of Hong Kong on 27 May, 2022 — AFP Photo

Asian equities rose at the open on Tuesday following a holiday weekend, as investors digested losses on Wall Street after the takeover of First Republic Bank.

After a choppy session, all three major US indices finished in the red on Monday at the start of a news-jammed week that includes a policy decision by the Federal Reserve and a report on US employment figures.

Adding to investor uncertainty were raised fears about the banking sector after another US regional lender went under.

Regulators announced the seizure of First Republic on Monday and that it had been sold to JPMorgan Chase, making it the second biggest bank by assets to collapse in US history.

"The collapse of First Republic saw JPMorgan step up to the plate and squash the biggest market risk on the table," said Edward Moya of the OANDA trading platform in a note.

"It is looking like the stress for the smaller banks is over as we now have a playbook to help the next bank that runs into trouble."

The takeover of First Republic came after the collapse of three midsized lenders in March, including the high-profile failures of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank — which rattled markets and raised contagion worries.

But Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset, added that the latest deal would go "a long way to calm investors' concerns" on the turmoil in the sector.

Multiple markets in Asia resumed trading after a holiday weekend.

Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Manila were all up, while Sydney, Wellington, Jakarta and Bangkok were down.

Tokyo stocks opened higher, helped by a cheaper yen.

"The Japanese market is seen starting with gains following the yen's depreciation," with a wait-and-see attitude expected to grow ahead of public holidays from Wednesday, Monex senior market analyst Toshiyuki Kanayama said.

Looking ahead, investors are closely eyeing the Fed's next interest rate decision due on Wednesday.

SVB's failure had come after it took on too much interest rate risk, among other issues.

The US central bank is widely expected to raise its benchmark lending rate for a tenth and possibly final time, this time by another quarter-point, as it continues its fight against high inflation.

For now, the market appears "primed" for the outcome of a rate hike and pause signal, according to Patrick O'Hare of Briefing.com.