SYDNEY – Asian shares were in a cautious mood on Friday after US Federal Reserve officials fired more warning shots on interest rates.
Both the dollar and bond yields were shoved higher overnight when St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said interest rates might need to hit a range from 5 percent to 7 percent to be "sufficiently restrictive" to curb inflation.
That was a blow to investors who had been wagering rates would peak at 5 percent and saw Fed fund futures sell off as markets priced in more chance that rates would now top out at 5-5.25 percent, rather than 4.75-5.0 percent.
Two-year yields crept back up to 4.46 percent, retracing a little of last week's sharp inflation-driven drop of 33 basis points to a low of 4.29 percent. That left them 69 basis points above 10-year yields, the largest inversion since 1981.
"The message is about the desire from the Fed to lean against what they would consider premature loosening of financial conditions," said Brian Daingerfield, an analyst at NatWest Markets. "And on that front, message received."
"The Fed seems squarely focused on over-signalling on the tightening front and hoping the data slow to a point where they can have the flexibility to undershoot."
The bond market's warnings of recession were not what Wall Street wanted to hear, and they left S&P 500 futures flat on Friday, while Nasdaq futures inched up 0.1 percent.
EUROSTOXX 50 futures added 0.7 percent and FTSE futures 0.3 percent.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan bounced 0.6 percent, after slipping for two sessions.
BoJ not for turning
Japan's Nikkei nudged up 0.2 percent. Data showed inflation running at a 40-year high as a weak yen stoked import costs.
Still, the Bank of Japan argues that inflation is mostly driven by energy costs outside of its control and that the economy needs continued super-easy policies.
The situation was radically different in Britain, where finance minister Jeremy Hunt had just announced tax rises and spending cuts in an effort to reassure markets the government was serious about fighting inflation.
Dire predictions that the economy was already in recession saw sterling stand at $1.1890, off the week's high of $1.2026.
That added to a broad bounce in the dollar, which reached 106.70 on a basket of currencies, up from a three-month trough of 105.30 touched early in the week.
The dollar edged up to 140.20 yen and away from its recent low of 137.67, but faced resistance around 140.70/80.
The euro held at $1.0368, having eased from a four-month peak of $1.0481 hit on Tuesday. Some policy makers argued for caution on tightening.
ECB President Christine Lagarde will give a keynote speech later on Friday that may offer guidance on which way the majority at the bank may lean.
In commodity markets, the bounce in the dollar and yields pushed gold back down to $1,762 an ounce after striking a top of $1,786 early in the week.
Oil futures steadied in early trading, but nursed steep losses for the week on worries about ever higher US interest rates. Brent added 61 cents to $90.39, but was still down 5.8 percent on the week, while US crude rose 75 cents to $82.39 per barrel.