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Flattening curve inspires market

Investors continue to fret that surging inflation will lead to interest rate hikes

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‘For Sale’ sign stands outside a home in Arlington, Virginia. The US inflation report showed consumer prices rising significantly for energy and food in July. / Olivier DOULIERY/Agence France-Presse

Local shares closed the quarter in the green as Covid-19 cases decline. The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) finished 48 points higher to 6,934 on a last-minute bargain hunting.

Sentiment in the US after pending home sales data showed it rebounded faster to 8.1 percent versus the consensus forecast of 1.3 percent also buoyed confidence.

Investors, though will continue to pay close attention to Washington headlines about a possible government shutdown, as well as the release of last week’s initial jobless claims figure, which economists expect to be 335,000.

Back home, the August unemployment rate, bank lending data, and purchasing managers’ index or PMI will be out soon giving cues to the possible direction of the index come October, Regina Capital Development Corp. managing director Luis Limlingan said.

Asia also up
Asian markets mostly rose Thursday after the previous day’s retreat, though investors continue to fret that surging inflation will lead to interest rate hikes, while the debt stand-off in Washington and prospect of a historic US default was also fraying nerves.

The Dow and S&P 500 provided a positive lead, though the unconvincing end to the trading day on Wall Street indicated lingering uncertainty on trading floors.

While expected for most of the year, the prospect that the Federal Reserve and other major central banks will soon begin to remove the ultra-loose monetary policies they put in place at the start of the pandemic has dampened sentiment in recent weeks.

The planned moves come as officials look to keep a lid on inflation, which has soared this year on the back of economic reopenings but has been more persistent than many predicted owing to supply chain problems.

Concerns that banks will have to tighten policy quicker and sooner than hoped come as the global economic recovery shows signs of a slowdown, with a spike in Covid infections dragging on sentiment among consumers.

“Growth has clearly hit an air pocket here with concerns about Covid, with the drama going on in Washington right now, the Chinese property sector that has sent tremors to global markets,” Christopher Smart, at Barings, said.

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