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Asia stocks rally, USD restrained before inflation test looms

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Asian share markets rallied on Monday on hopes a key reading on U.S. inflation will show some cooling, while the U.S. dollar was limited by the risk of higher European interest rates and Japanese intercession.

Holidays in China and South Korea made for slow trading, while brokers were unsure what implications Ukraine’s surprising success against Russian powers could have.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) added 0.5%, having bounced modestly from a two-year low hit last week. Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) added another 1.1%, after rallying 2% last week.

Chinese blue chips (.CSI300) firmed 1.3% ahead of retail and industry data due later in the week that may show some improvement in August after a disappointing July.

Wall Street struggled to extend Friday’s bounce with S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures flat. EUROSTOXX 50 futures gained 0.6% and FTSE futures 0.2%.

Bulls are hoping Tuesday’s reading on U.S. customer costs will hint at a peak for inflation as falling petrol prices are seen pulling down the headline index by 0.1%.

The core is figure to rise 0.3%, though some analysts see a chance of a softer report.

“Arguably, with the economy having contracted through the first half, and household discretionary spending capacity under significant pressure, we are due a modest downside surprise,” said economists at Westpac.

“As such, we forecast +0.2% for core and -0.2% for headline,” they added. “If achieved though, it should not be assumed that October and beyond will see repeats, with volatility likely to persist.”

A delicate number might revive speculation the Federal Reserve will only hike by 50 basis points this month, though it would likely have to be very weak to have a real impact given how stridently hawkish policymakers have been as of late.

The market at present implies an 88% chance the Fed will hike by 75 basis points.

BofA global economist Ethan Harris fears that by focusing on actual inflation to determine when to stop, central banks may go too far. The bank has lifted its target for the federal funds rate to a range of 4.0-4.25%, with a 75bp hike in September and smaller rises thereafter.

“For investors, this means more pressure on interest rates, more weakness in risk assets and further upside for the super-strong dollar,” said Harris.

“In our view, these trends only turn when markets price the full fury of central bank hikes and we are not quite there yet.”

For now, the dollar has run into some profit taking from a market that is very long the currency after a month of sustained gains.

So rapidly has the dollar risen on the yen that Japanese authorities are becoming increasingly vocal in protesting their currency’s decline, sparking speculation of intervention and putting pressure on the Bank of Japan to moderate its policy of yield curve control.

Japan’s government must take steps as needed to counter excessive declines in the yen, a senior government official said on Sunday, after it hit its weakest level against the dollar in 24 years.

Yet after an early dip, the dollar soon rallied to be up 0.4% at 143.14 yen, though still off last week’s top of 144.99.

The dollar index stood at 108.770, having reached as high as 110.790 last week.

The euro nudged up 0.4% to $1.0080, and away from its recent trough of $0.9865.

Analysts at ANZ noted the dollar over the past month was up roughly 9% against the euro and the Chinese yuan, 12% against the British pound and 19% against the yen.

“The rampant USD is causing strain in developing countries, which are finding imports priced in USD more expensive,” they said in a note.

“With Fed speakers using every opportunity to hammer home a hawkish message and quantitative tightening looming, the USD is not about to dramatically turn.”

The ascent of the dollar combined with high bond yields has been a drag for gold, which was hovering at $1,713 an ounce after hitting a low of $1,690 last week.

Oil prices have also been trending lower amid concerns about a global economic slowdown, though cuts to supply did prompt a 4% bounce on Friday.

On Monday, Brent was down $1.29 at $91.55, while U.S. crude shed $1.28 to $85.51 per barrel.

 

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Economy

Major American Corporations Eye Investments in Bangladesh: State Minister

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State Minister Ahsanul Islam

State Minister for Commerce Ahasanul Islam Titu announced on Tuesday (May 28) that major American conglomerates, including Amazon, Chevron, Coca-Cola, and Boeing, are showing keen interest in investing in Bangladesh.

“We are working to streamline the investment process for American companies, ensuring they can operate smoothly without any obstacles,” State Minister Titu told reporters following a meeting with a delegation from the US-Bangladesh Business Council at the Ministry of Commerce.

The minister highlighted that the discussion focused on simplifying investment procedures and removing any barriers that might deter new American companies from entering the Bangladeshi market.

A representative from Amazon attended the meeting, where discussions centered on the potential for Amazon to integrate Bangladeshi products into its global supply chain and enhance the local e-commerce infrastructure. “Amazon is looking into establishing a central warehouse in Bangladesh to facilitate regional and international product distribution,” Titu added.

The US delegation also explored opportunities in energy, digital payments, and startup sectors.

Titu outlined the primary goals of the United States-Bangladesh Business Council: improving market access for Bangladeshi products, facilitating US investments in Bangladesh, and strengthening bilateral relations. These efforts align with the government’s Smart Bangladesh strategy aimed at strategic growth.

Addressing concerns about some American companies withdrawing their investments from Bangladesh’s capital market, Titu emphasized the importance of welcoming international conglomerates. “If Facebook, Amazon, Chevron, Coca-Cola, and Boeing become involved in Bangladesh’s business landscape, it will significantly ease the country’s progress,” he stated.

Titu also mentioned Bangladesh’s scheduled graduation from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) category in 2026 and stressed the importance of securing market access in various countries within the next two years.

He assured that the government is committed to attracting international investors through policy support, emphasizing Bangladesh’s potential as a significant market with a stable government expected for the next five years.

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Bond Market Reforms Key to Investment Growth: Salman F Rahman

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salman f rahman

Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman today underscored the need to bolster the country’s capital market to secure funding for investors.

“Globally, the capital market is the primary source for raising finance for investors. However, in our country, businessmen typically rely on bank loans for mid-term investments or expansion. We are working towards improving the bond market,” he stated.

Salman made these remarks following a meeting with an executive business delegation from the US-Bangladesh Business Council at the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Bhaban in the city, sources said.

The meeting was attended by Board Chair of the US-Bangladesh Business Council and President and CEO of Excelerate Energy, Steven Kobos, along with President of the US-Bangladesh Business Council and South Asian Vice President of the US Chamber of Commerce, Ambassador (ret) Atul Keshap, among others.

Speaking to reporters, Salman mentioned the government’s efforts to safeguard the capital market from manipulation. “Share prices depend on the market. The government never interferes in this regard. The primary role of the government is monitoring,” he added.

He also highlighted the importance of institutional investors in strengthening the country’s capital market.

Moreover, Salman noted that US entrepreneurs have shown increased interest in investing in Bangladesh, recognizing the current government’s various development initiatives.

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PM Sheikh Hasina Seeks U.S. Business Support for ‘Smart Bangladesh’ Vision

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Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called on U.S. businessmen to support Bangladesh’s goal of becoming a developed and smart nation by 2041. Addressing a delegation from the US-Bangladesh Business Council at her official residence in Ganabhaban, she emphasized the importance of their partnership in this transformative journey.

“We aim to become a ‘Smart Nation’ by 2041. Your support in enhancing our global competitiveness and expanding our export base is crucial,” she said.

The Prime Minister highlighted Bangladesh’s imminent graduation from a “least developed” to a “developing” country in 2026, attributing this progress to sustained efforts over the last 15 years. “Our efforts have led to Bangladesh being recognized globally as a ‘Role Model of Socio-Economic Development’,” she stated, citing good governance, the rule of law, rural investment, women’s empowerment, and ICT advancements as key factors.

Sheikh Hasina noted the longstanding economic and developmental partnership with the U.S., which is Bangladesh’s largest export destination and source of foreign direct investment. She expressed optimism about further strengthening this relationship.

“To protect our economy from current pressures, investment—both domestic and foreign—is vital. The implementation of Bida’s One Stop Service (OSS) will facilitate this,” she said, addressing the OSS implementation progress review meeting at the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority’s (Bida) headquarters.

She urged the U.S. business community to invest in Bangladesh’s high-potential sectors, including renewable energy, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, and ICT. “We are establishing 100 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and 28 hi-tech parks, making Bangladesh a prime destination for IT investments,” she added.

Highlighting Bangladesh’s competitive advantages, she mentioned the availability of a young, skilled workforce at competitive wages and the country’s liberal investment policy. She reassured investors of the government’s commitment to improving the investment environment.

In response to the Prime Minister’s address, Bida Executive Member Mohsina Yasmin presented a report on OSS progress, while NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem assured the business community of considering logical amendments to the Customs Act.

Sheikh Hasina underscored Bangladesh’s significant socio-economic achievements, including reduced poverty rates, increased life expectancy, and higher literacy rates, particularly among women. She noted that Bangladesh is currently one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, projected to be the 25th largest by 2030.

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