Asian Market News: ASX 200 Under Pressure Amid NVIDIA, FOMC Jitters and Earnings

Bob Mason
Published: Feb 21, 2024, 02:24 UTC

Key Points:

  • Australian wages increase by 4.2% year-on-year in Q4, beating forecasts ,giving the RBA an unwanted headache.
  • Corporate earnings and pre-NVIDIA and FOMC Meeting Minute jitters also affected buyer demand for ASX 200-listed stocks.
  • In contrast to the ASX 200 losses, the Hang Seng Index made early gains.
Asia Market News

In this article:

Australian Wage Growth Spurs RBA Rate Hike Expectations

In Q4, Australian wages increased by 4.2% year-on-year after rising by 4.1% in Q3. Economists forecast wages to increase by 4.1%.

According to the ABS,

  • Private sector wages grew by 4.3%, while public sector wages increased by 4.0%.
  • Wages grew at the most marked pace since Q1 2009.
  • 64% of jobs that registered a change in wages over the last 12 months saw wages increase by more than 3%, up from 45% in Q4 2022.

The Q4 wage data could offset the effects of RBA monetary policy and increase disposable income. An upward trend in disposable income may fuel consumer spending and demand-driven inflation.

On February 6, RBA Governor Michelle Bullock discussed embedded inflation risks to the economy. Significantly, the RBA Governor could not discount the chances of an RBA rate hike. If the wage growth translates into a pickup in household spending, the RBA could hike rates to curb spending and tame inflation.

ASX 200 Facing Heavy Selling Pressure

On Wednesday morning, the ASX 200 was down 0.74% to 7,604. Investor jitters ahead of NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) earnings and the FOMC Meeting Minutes set the tone for the session.

Increasing pressure on the RBA to raise interest rates and corporate earnings also pressured the ASX 200.

Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) was down 3.26%, dragging BHP Group Ltd (BHP) and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (FMG) deep into negative territory. BHP and FMG were down 3.29% and 4.36%, respectively. Investors reacted to full-year earnings.

Woolworths (ASX: WOW) tumbled by 8.98%. Company CEO Brad Banducci announced he would step down after reporting a $781 million loss, spooking investors.

ASX 200 spent Wednesday morning in negative territory.
ASX 200 Hourly Chart 210224

The AUD/USD saw modest gains despite the Australian wage growth numbers. On Wednesday morning, the AUD/USD was up 0.08% to $0.65535.

AUD/USD made early gains on wage growth figures for Q4.
AUDUSD Hourly Chart 210224

Elsewhere, the Hang Seng Index (+1.13%) made early gains, with tech and property stocks among the front runners. On Wednesday morning, the Hang Seng Mainland Properties Index (HSMPI) and Hang Seng Tech Index (HSTECH) were up 2.17% and 1.23%, respectively.

However, the banking sector will be under the spotlight. Hang Seng Bank (HK: 0011) and HSBC (HK: 0005) will release earnings on Wednesday. HSBC and Hang Seng Bank were up 0.64% and 0.67%, respectively.

Hang Seng Index was on the rise on Wednesday.
Hang Seng Index Hourly Chart 210224

About the Author

Bob Masonauthor

With over 20 years of experience in the finance industry, Bob has been managing regional teams across Europe and Asia and focusing on analytics across both corporate and financial institutions. Currently he is covering developments relating to the financial markets, including currencies, commodities, alternative asset classes, and global equities.

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