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Asia-Pacific markets open mixed as investors weigh risks of more hikes ahead



India may extend wheat export ban to bring down domestic prices – Reuters

India may extend its wheat export ban as it seeks to replenish state reserves and bring down domestic prices, Reuters reported, citing government sources.

The country imposed the ban in May 2022 in response to a heatwave which curtailed output and sent local prices soaring.

Reuters added that the current ban was scheduled to be reviewed in April, and top government officials from are likely to make a decision on an extension by the end of March or early April.

However, government and industry sources added they don’t expect wheat exports to resume until mid-2024.

Wheat futures were trading at 0.2% lower on Thursday morning.

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Hyundai in talks with U.S. government on alleged child labor use: Reuters

South Korean auto company Hyundai Motors is in discussions with the U.S. labor department over allegations of using child labor in its U.S. supply chain, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the company.

The company told Reuters that it has been investigating a subsidiary in Alabama and other suppliers and its sister brand Kia Corp for potential child labor violations.

Shares of Hyundai fell fractionally in Seoul’s morning trade.

– Jihye Lee

AGL Energy falls over 10% after 55% drop in net profit

Shares of Australian energy company AGL Energy fell more than 10% on Thursday morning after the company reported a 55% drop in its underlying net profit after tax for the June-December period of 2022 compared to the same period a year ago.

AGL’s CEO and managing director Damien Nicks said in the company’s earnings report that the “challenged” first half performance was driven by the impact of plant outages during “unprecedented energy market conditions” in July.


The company also cut its underlying earnings guidance range from 200 million – 300 million Australian dollars ($139 million to $208 million) – to a range of 200 million – 280 million Australian dollars.

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Fed Governor Waller on interest rate hikes: ‘We have farther to go’

Fed Governor Christopher Waller on Wednesday talked tough on inflation, warning that the fight is not over and could result in higher interest rates than markets are anticipating.

Speaking to an agribusiness conference in Arkansas, Waller said the January jobs report, showing nonfarm payroll growth of 517,000, indicated that the employment market is “robust” and could fuel consumer spending that would maintain upward pressure on inflation.

Consequently, he said the Fed needs to maintain its current plan of action, which has seen eight interest rate hikes since March 2022.

“We are seeing that effort begin to pay off, but we have farther to go,” Waller told the Arkansas State University Agribusiness Conference in prepared remarks. “And, it might be a long fight, with interest rates higher for longer than some are currently expecting. But I will not hesitate to do what is needed to get my job done.”

The comments come a week after the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee approved a quarter percentage point increase that took the benchmark borrowing rate to a target range of 4.5%-4.7%, the highest since October 2007.


— Jeff Cox

CNBC Pro: Will the stock market rally last? Analysts share their predictions — and strategies

Wholesale inventories for December up 0.1%

U.S. wholesale inventories for December rose by just 0.1% from the revised November level, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That’s the lowest month-over-month change since July 2020.

Total adjusted inventories of merchant wholesalers, except sales branches and offices, came in at $932.9 billion, up 17.6% from December 2021.

December’s data also came in line with the consensus estimate of economists polled by Dow Jones.

— Michelle Fox

CNBC Pro: Will the stock market rally last? Analysts share their predictions — and strategies

Fed’s Williams says looser financial conditions could imply higher interest rates

If financial conditions continue to loosen, the Federal Reserve could be forced to push interest rates higher than expected, New York Fed President John Williams said Wednesday.

By the Chicago Fed’s measure, conditions are at their loosest since April 2022. That has come despite eight interest rate hikes from the central bank in its attempt to rein in inflation.


“If financial conditions … loosened a lot or got much more supportive of growth, that would be a factor that would have to influence our thinking about the future path of the economy and what we need to do in terms of monetary policy in order to achieve our goal,” Williams said during a Wall Street Journal roundtable.

Looser conditions “might might imply a higher interest rate to make sure that we’re getting to the goals that we’re trying to achieve,” he added.

As things stand, he said projections in December of a fed funds rate in the 5%-5.5% range are probably accurate, implying increases of another 0.5 percentage point or so from the current level.

—Jeff Cox

CNBC Pro: Emerging markets are getting attention. Morgan Stanley names the ‘highest quality’ stocks to play it

Emerging markets could be a big winner for investors this year, according to Wall Street analysts. CNBC Pro takes a look at eight of Morgan Stanley’s top picks.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong


Source: CNBC

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