Dollar reigns as investors fear recession pain

  • Oil, Europe equity futures steady after steep drop
  • Euro huddles at 20-yr low; sterling squeezed
  • China stocks slip on fresh Shanghai virus outbreak

TOKYO/SINGAPORE, July 6 (Reuters) – Asian stocks fell and the dollar stood by a two-decade high on the euro on Wednesday as investors’ fears deepened that the continent is leading the world into recession, while oil and European equity futures made a wobbly attempt to steady.

Brent crude futures have slid this month on worries that a global slowdown will sap demand. Prices slumped 9.5% to a 2-1/2 month low of $101.10 on Tuesday, before bouncing slightly to $103.86 a barrel in the Asia session on Wednesday.

MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) fell 1%, led by a 2% drop for Taiwan’s benchmark index (.TWII) – heavy with growth-sensitive computer chip makers – which hit an 18-month low. Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) fell 1.1%.

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S&P 500 futures fell 0.1% while FTSE futures and EuroSTOXX 50 futures rose 1% after heavy Tuesday selling.

News has been relentlessly negative, with talk of gas rationing in Europe, a political crisis in Britain and a fresh flare up of COVID-19 cases prompting fresh restrictions in Shanghai. read more

In the United States, the two-year Treasury yield has dropped below the 10-year yield , a reliable market signal of a recession capping growth in the medium term.

“The drumbeat is getting louder and louder about recession risk,” said Jason Teh, chief investment officer at Vertium Asset Management in Sydney.

“Right now defense is the name of the game. It’s the best strategy right now, because in a recession a lot of things can fall out of bed.”

Delivery,the dollar has been king and a safety bid has even returned to the beaten-down Japanese yen. The US dollar index hit a 20-year high of 106.79 on Tuesday, hoisted by a tumbling euro.

The index hovered at 106.440 on Wednesday and the yen rose about 0.4% to 135.39 per dollar.

The euro huddled at $1.0266 after dropping as far as $1.0236 on Tuesday and traders expect little respite. Selling could follow if Eurozone retail sales figures due at 0900 GMT disappoint expectations for a 0.4% monthly rise in May.

“There are no important support levels for EUR/USD until $1,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia strategist Kristina Clifton.

Sterling was near a two-year low at $1.1944 after the resignation of two of Britain’s top government ministers put Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s leadership under new pressure. read more

GAS GAS GAS

Uncertainty over Europe’s gas supply is leading the latest round of worries, and has sent prices rocketing against slumps in other commodities on growth worries.

Benchmark Dutch gas prices have doubled since the middle of June.

Some investors worry that flow along the Nord Stream pipeline, which brings gas from Russia to Germany, might not resume after a ten-day maintenance shutdown from July 11 and that winter supply shortages will then prompt rationing and a sharp drop in economic activity.

The backdrop is rising interest rates.

The Federal Reserve publishes minutes later on Wednesday from the June meeting, where it announced the sharpest hike in the US benchmark interest rate in nearly 30 years. It is likely to foreshadow more hikes as Fed officials have said their top priority is fighting inflation, even at the cost of growth.

“The probability of a soft landing had massively declined,” August Hatecke, the co-head of UBS Wealth Management Asia Pacific told investors at a conference in Singapore. The growth-sensitive Australian dollar was stuck near a two-year low at $0.6805.

Spot gold was last steady at $1,771 an ounce after sliding on the strong dollar overnight. The safe haven is down about 3% this year, less than the steep losses for equities and bonds.

Treasuries were steady in Asia with the 10-year yield at 2.8327% and the two-year yield at 2.8385%. Bitcoin , which has been demolished in the flight from risky assets, sat at $20.115.

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Reporting by Sam Byford; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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