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Asian stocks dip as oil rally fans inflation fears

The suspension of Evergrande Group’s trading in Hong Kong adds to China’s property sector woes amid a prolonged debt crisis. (AP pic)

HONG KONG: Shares in Asia tracked lower as a jump in global oil prices emboldened the higher-for-longer rates narrative, sapping risk sentiment as some markets in the region prepare for a holiday.

The US benchmark oil price hit US$95 a barrel for the first time in more than a year after stockpiles fell at a major storage hub. The increase added to concerns that inflation would remain elevated, keeping the 10-year Treasury yield near the 4.6% it reached in the previous session, the highest since 2007.

Equity benchmarks in Japan and Hong Kong fell, dragging down a key index of regional shares. Stocks in mainland China were mixed ahead of an extended break for onshore markets, which will close Friday before reopening Oct 9.

Chinese developers extended losses after falling to levels not seen since 2011 on Wednesday. Trading in China Evergrande Group was suspended in Hong Kong, another troubling sign for the sector that’s been embroiled in an yearslong debt crisis.

US futures ticked higher after Wall Street ended Wednesday flat. A widely-watched measure of global equities opened lower in Asia after falling for the ninth consecutive session, its worst losing streak in a dozen years.

September has reasserted its tough reputation. It’s shaping up as the worst month for global stocks in a year, while the 10-year Treasury yield has also risen by the most in that period.

An index of US investment grade corporate bonds has suffered its biggest monthly drop since February, pulling the benchmark to a loss for the year.

“We are at an inflexion point in the economy and the bond market,” Bob Michele, CIO for fixed income at JPMorgan Asset Management, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

“The last 15 years were not normal, we got to a structural low and now we are going to revert to something that is more normal.”

The Bloomberg dollar index was steady after touching the highest level since November. The index has climbed for six sessions in a row, its longest run of advances in a year. Meanwhile. the yen strengthened slightly on Thursday but remained near 150 per dollar.

Australian and New Zealand rates also gained, while Japan’s 20-year yield rose to the highest since 2014.

Neel Kashkari, Minneapolis Federal Reserve President, said a potential US government shutdown and the effects of the autoworker strike may slow the economy, requiring less aggressive moves from the central bank.

“If these downside scenarios hit the US economy, we might then have to do less with our monetary policy to bring inflation back down to 2%,” Kashkari said in an interview on CNN.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell and a handful of other central bank officials are set to speak later Thursday. Data on the docket for release include US gross domestic product and initial jobless claims ahead of the personal consumption expenditures price on Friday, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge.

Global stocks also face the risk of further selling linked to a large options position held by a JPMorgan Chase & Co equity fund. Tens of thousands of protective put contracts held by the fund will expire Friday at a strike price not far below the current level of the S&P 500, creating the potential for market dislocations.

Elsewhere, gold edged higher after a run of declines this week while Bitcoin traded above US$26,000.