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Asia shares flat, holidays help blunt U.S. tech retreat

Asia shares flat, holidays help blunt U.S. tech retreat

05-May-2021 Intellasia |
Reuters |
8:39 AM

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Asian shares risked falling for a fourth straight session on Wednesday as sentiment took a knock from a selloff in large cap Wall Street tech darlings, combined with talk of rising U.S. interest rates.

Holidays in Japan, China and South Korea limited the early reaction, leaving MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) dithering either side of flat.

Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) was shut, but futures traded down at 28,735 compared to the last cash close of 28,812.

Nasdaq futures steadied after a sharp pullback overnight, while S&P 500 futures inched up 0.1%.

The Nasdaq had dropped 1.9% on Tuesday as some big tech names ran into profit-taking, including Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

Stretched valuations were tested when U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said rate hikes may be needed to stop the economy overheating. read more

She later waked back the comments, but it reminded investors that rates would have to rise at some point in the future.

“Moderate inflation and a slow moving Fed would continue to be supportive, but inflation and a reactive Fed may prove to be a negative for valuations,” said Tapas Strickland, a director of economics at NAB.

“Either way yields and equities are likely to be in a dance as much better than expected economic data continues to challenge central banks’ rates guidance.”

One such challenge looms on Friday when U.S. payrolls data are forecast to show a hefty rise of 978,000, while some estimates go as high as 2.1 million.

So far, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has argued the labour market is still far short of where it needs to be to start talking of tapering asset buying.

Minneapolis Fed Bank President Neel Kashkari, a notable dove, on Tuesday said it may take a few years for the economy to get back to full employment.

The Fed’s dogged patience allowed yields on U.S. 10-year notes to ease back to 1.59%, from last week’s top of 1.69%, though the market has struggled to break below 1.53%.

Just the mention of higher U.S. rates was enough to help the dollar recoup a little of its recent losses.

The euro dropped back to $1.2015 and threatened to breach important chart support in the $1.1995/1.2000 area. A break would open the way to a retracement target at $1.1923.

The dollar was a shade firmer on the yen at 109.36 , but faces resistance at 109.61. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar edged up to 91.282 and away from a recent two-month low of 90.422.

The New Zealand dollar blipped higher to $0.7160 when local jobs data proved strong than expected.

In commodity markets, palladium soared to a record high on worries over short supplies of the metal used in emissions controlling devices in automobiles.

Gold was left lagging at $1,776 an ounce .

Oil prices climbed to seven-week peaks as more countries opened their borders to travellers, improving the demand outlook for petrol and jet fuel.

Brent added 57 cents to $69.49 a barrel, near its highest since mid-March, while U.S. crude rose 52 cents to $66.23 per barrel.

https://www.reuters.com/business/global-markets-wrapup-1-pix-2021-05-05/

Category: FinanceAsia

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Asian markets mixed as traders eye US jobs data

Asian markets mixed as traders eye US jobs data

05-May-2021 Intellasia |
AFP |
5:02 AM

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Equity markets drifted in Asian trade Tuesday as investors bide their time ahead of the release of key US jobs figures later in the week.

While the Dow and S&P 500 on Wall Street provided a positive lead, there were few catalysts to drive business, with Tokyo and mainland China’s bourses closed for holidays.

Still, a top Federal Reserve official provided some welcome comments as he reiterated the bank’s intention to maintain its ultra-loose monetary policy for the foreseeable future even as he predicted the world’s top economy would grow at its quickest pace since the 1980s.

In trying to soothe long-running fears that the expected burst of economic activity this year will fan inflation and force rate hikes, John Williams, president of the Fed’s influential New York branch, said “it’s important not to overreact to this volatility in prices”.

He added that a sharp rise in inflation was to be expected owing to the low base of comparison last year as the virus shut down the global economy, but that would soon ease back.

The latest snapshot of the economy comes Friday with the release of April jobs data, with some observers suggesting around one million positions created.

Analysts said that with highly accommodative policies put in place by the Fed and other central banks to ride out the pandemic crisis likely in place for some time, markets still had some way to go up.

“The world remains almost perfect for equities,” Chris Iggo, at AXA Investment managers, said. Despite strong growth, rising earnings and rich valuations, “no-one is taking the punch-bowl away for now”.

Still, with equities sitting around record or multi-year highs after a more than year-long rally, there is a feeling that they are in store for a small correction soon, before resuming their upward march.

In early trade, Hong Kong was marginally higher, a day after data showed the financial hub had finally escaped recession following seven quarters of contraction caused by the pandemic and the 2019 democracy protests.

Sydney, Wellington, Manila and Jakarta were also up but there were losses in Singapore, Seoul and Taipei.

Oil prices extended Monday’s gains, lifted by hopes for a resumption of travel in Europe as leaders look at easing restrictions on foreign tourists as early as next month, if they are fully vaccinated or come from a country with Covid under control.

That, along with the rollout of jabs across the continent and the US, was helping offset concerns about the frightening infection surge in India that has crippled the country’s health system and led to calls for strict lockdowns.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Hong Kong Hang Seng Index: UP 0.1 percent at 28,373.61

Tokyo Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

Shanghai Composite: Closed for a holiday

euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2048 from $1.2066 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3884 from $1.3907

euro/pound: UP at 86.77 pence from 86.71 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.23 yen from 109.07 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.3 percent at $64.66 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.3 percent at $67.73 per barrel

New York Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 34,113.23 (close)

London FTSE 100: closed for a holiday

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/asian-markets-mixed-traders-eye-022705530.html

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Asian share markets edge higher on pandemic recovery signals

Asian share markets edge higher on pandemic recovery signals

05-May-2021 Intellasia |
Reuters |
5:02 AM

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Asian share markets were mostly positive Tuesday as investors looked to signs of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic as major economies around the world reopen.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) was just 0.13 percent higher in the Asian afternoon session in trading thinned by holidays in China and Japan. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (.HSI) was trading 0.33 percent higher at 28,441.95.

Australia’s S&P/ASX200 (.AXJO) edged up 0.44 percent to 7,059.4 as the Reserve Bank met expectations and kept the official cash rate target at 0.1%.

In a statement, the bank signalled the cash rate would stay ultra low until least 2024 and upgraded its growth forecast for the Australian economy from 3.5 percent to 4.75 percent over 2021.

In early futures trade, FTSE Index was pointing to a 0.3 percent gain at the open, Eurostoxx 50 futures were flat and S&P 500 futures indicated a 0.24 percent decline for the US.

The mildly positive tone in Asia was broadly in line with that on Wall Street overnight, where upbeat earnings, news of cities reopening and a dovish Federal Reserve helped offset a disappointing report on manufacturing activity.

While that combination is also causing investors to position for stocks to defy the customary ‘Sell in May’ adage, they have turned cautious ahead of key US services data due on Wednesday and non-farm payrolls numbers on Friday.

“Dovish tones from the Fed and an extraordinary fiscal stimulus from the Biden Administration are fuelling optimism that the US economy will strengthen further during 2021,” said Stephen Koukoulas, managing director at the Canberra-based Market Economics.

“Attention is also moving the US payrolls data this Friday where close to 1 million new payrolls and an unemployment rate back down towards 5.6 percent is set to reinforce this upbeat sentiment.”

Taiwan was an exception in the Asian region, with stocks there (.TWII) down by 1.7 percent after initially falling by up to 3.3 percent earlier in the day.

The index is up about 15 percent for the year, which ranks it as one of the strongest performing markets in the region.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng’s positive performance on Tuesday came after the index shed nearly 1000 points over the past two sessions.

“The ‘Sell in May’ story is taking place in Hong Kong, we are not seeing investors chasing the market,” Jack Siu, Credit Suisse’s greater China chief investment officer said.

“For the new economy stocks, there is a lack of interest because there are concerns about what the new regulations will be and what impact that will have on those companies. Those uncertainties are putting investors on the sidelines.”

Japan and mainland China’s markets remained closed on Tuesday for holidays dampening trading volumes across the region.

Monday’s session on Wall Street saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) end 0.7 percent higher at 34,113.23 points, while the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 0.27 percent to 4,192.66 with most of the gains concentrated in industrial and commodity shares.

The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dipped as technology stocks lagged sectors investors saw as beneficiaries of a pandemic recovery.

Energy stocks also gained on the back of higher oil prices.

Later in the Asian session, Brent crude was down 0.2 percent at $67.38 while US light crude was off 0.31 percent at $64.56. Both were trading higher after a positive lead from the US overnight.

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/global-markets-wrapup-1-2021-05-04/

Category: FinanceAsia

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Asean plus China, Japan, Korea vow to boost financial ties amid pandemic

Asean plus China, Japan, Korea vow to boost financial ties amid pandemic

05-May-2021 Intellasia |
Reuters |
5:02 AM

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Finance ministers and central bank governors from Asean, China, Japan and South Korea on Monday vowed to strengthen regional financial cooperation while providing continued support for countries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a joint statement issued after a virtual meeting on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) annual meetings, the ministers pledged to achieve inclusive recovery, preserve long-term fiscal sustainability and maintain financial stability.

Responses to the coronavirus crisis, universal health coverage, climate change, high-quality infrastructure and debt transparency and sustainability in emerging Asia will top the agenda at the ADB gatherings, said Japan’sfinance minister, Taro Aso.

“We expect a rebound in 2021 as the recovery gathers momentum and vaccine rollouts allow a gradual opening up of our economies,” a statement read. “The recovery appears uneven across and within countries, and subject to possible elevated risks including the spread of new variants and different paces of vaccination.”

China, Japan and South Korea said they would explore “new initiatives” to strengthen the regional financial safety net at the virtual meeting with the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

Asean includes Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The financial chiefs vowed to use all policy tools to ensure a sustainable economic recovery, and to gradually normalise expansionary policy while mitigating risks of a fiscal cliff.

Aso told reporters it was significant that the regional financial leaders “reaffirmed the importance of financial cooperation.”

At their last virtual meeting in September, the financial chiefs from Japan, South Korea, China and Asean, a group known as Asean+3, promised to boost the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM).

The CMIM plays a crucial role in supporting regional financial stability by allowing the member economies, which include the Asean+3 and Hong Kong, to tap currency swap lines to secure currencies in need.

The regional financial leaders also underscored their commitment to backing open and rules-based multilateral trade and investment in the region.

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/china-japan-skorea-vow-provide-targeted-support-recovery-pandemic-2021-05-03/

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Asian shares mixed after strong earnings, data lift Wall St

Asian shares mixed after strong earnings, data lift Wall St

05-May-2021 Intellasia |
AP |
5:02 AM

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Asian shares were mixed after strong corporate earnings and economic data lifted stocks on Wall Street.

Hong Kong and Sydney advanced while Seoul declined. Tokyo and Shanghai were closed for holidays.

On Monday, a strong dose of positive earnings reports and economic data that showed the US economy is growing pushed the S&P 500 up 0.3%. US futures were lower on Tuesday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent to 28,475.47 and the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 7,048.70. In Seoul, the Kospi lost 0.4 percent to 3,116.61. Shares rose in Jakarta but fell in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

On Monday, shares of clothing retailer Gap Inc. and flooring manufacturer Mohawk Industries both gained more than 7%. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index came in at 60.7, well above the 50-point mark that indicates manufacturing activity is expanding.

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said the economic outlook has “clearly brightened” in the United States, but the recovery remains too uneven.

Health care and energy companies helped push stocks higher Monday, with the S&P 500 closing at 4,192.66.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.7 percent to 34,113.23. The tech-heavy Nasdaq shed an early gain, falling 0.5 percent to 13,895.12.

Smaller companies, had a good showing. The Russell 2000 index picked up 0.5 percent to 2,277.45.

Stocks have been grinding higher on expectations of an economic recovery and strong company profits this year as large-scale coronavirus vaccination programmes help people return to jobs and normal behaviors after more than a year of restrictions. Massive support from the US government and the Federal Reserve, and increasingly positive economic data, have also helped put investors in a buying mood, keeping stock indexes near their all-time highs.

More than half of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their results so far this earnings season, which show profit growth of 54 percent so far, according to FactSet.

This will be another busy week for earnings reports, with Merck, Pepsi, Colgate-Palmolive and CVS among the companies reporting their latest quarterly results. Investors will also get April’s jobs report on Friday.

On the economic front, a report on US manufacturing activity in April came in below economists’ expectations, but still was strong for the month. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index came in at 60.7 for April, compared with the 65.0 reading that was expected. However that figure is still well above the 50-point mark that indicates expanding manufacturing activity.

A report on US construction spending showed similar results, making gains but still falling short of economists’ forecasts. Spending on construction projects rose just 0.2 percent in March, the Commerce Department said Monday, significantly less than the 1.7 percent jump economists had expected.

The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note slipped to 1.60 percent from 1.65 percent late Friday.

US benchmark crude oil gained 5 cents to $64.54 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 91 cents on Monday to $64.49 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 5 cents to $67.61 per barrel.

The US dollar rose to 109.23 Japanese yen from 109.09 yen late Monday. The euro slipped to $1.2046 from $1.2066.

https://apnews.com/article/japan-china-asia-financial-markets-health-8a2639db7c899466a235ca1ab170ed3c

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HK, Taiwan fall more than 1pct each as Asia-Pacific investors watch Covid situation in India

HK, Taiwan fall more than 1pct each as Asia-Pacific investors watch Covid situation in India

04-May-2021 Intellasia |
CNBC |
5:02 AM

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Stocks in Asia-Pacific slipped on Monday, with major markets in China and Japan closed for holidays.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was among the biggest losers regionally as it fell 1.28 percent to finish its trading day at 28,357.54. The Taiex in Taiwan also dropped 1.96 percent to close at 17,222.35.

South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.66 percent to close at 3,127.20. Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 ended the trading day slightly higher at 7,028.80.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.72%.

Investors in Asia-Pacific continued monitoring the Covid situation in India as the country continues to battle a deadly second wave of infections. Over the weekend, more than 400,000 daily new cases were registered for the first time.

Markets in China, Japan, and Thailand were closed on Monday for holidays.

Currencies and oil

The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 91.241 after rising late last month from below 90.9.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.68 per dollar, weaker than levels below 108.5 against the greenback seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.772, following its tumble in late April from above $0.776.

Oil prices were little changed in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures below the flatline as they traded at $66.74 per barrel. US crude futures hovered above the flatline, trading at $63.60 per barrel.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/03/asia-markets-covid-in-india-currencies-oil.html

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Asia shares extend gains on supportive Fed, Biden’s stimulus

Asia shares extend gains on supportive Fed, Biden’s stimulus

30-Apr-2021 Intellasia |
Reuters |
5:02 AM

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Asian shares extended gains on Thursday after the Federal Reserve said it was too early to consider rolling back emergency support for the economy, and US President Joe Biden proposed an $1.8 trillion stimulus package.

European and US markets were set to open higher as well, with FTSE futures up 0.15%. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 index rose 0.53 percent and Nasdaq futures advanced 0.87%.

Biden proposed the sweeping new $1.8 trillion plan in a speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, pleading with Republican lawmakers to work with him on divisive issues and to meet the stiff competition posed by China.

He also made an impassioned plea to raise taxes on corporations and rich Americans to help pay for what he called the “American Families Plan” in his maiden speech to Congress. He has also proposed nearly doubling the tax on investment income, which knocked stock markets last week. read more

Stephen Dover, Franklin Templeton’s chief market strategist in California, said the effect of the tax package on markets is hard to measure for now.

“If it passes, I think it will have an impact on individual stocks that will pay a higher rate of tax or companies with founders that will pay capital gains and could sell stocks,” he said. “I think investors are going to think about whether they want take their gains now and that creates the possibility of short-term volatility now.”

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) built on early gains and was up 0.46 percent by mid-afternoon.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (.AXJO) edged up 0.24%, as strong oil prices lifted energy stocks.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index (.CSI300) was 0.45 percent higher, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index (.HSI) rose half a percentage point. Seoul’s KOSPI (.KS11) was flat while Taiwan shares (.TWII) rose 0.17%.

Markets in Japan were closed for a holiday but Nikkei futures rose 0.35 percent to 29,055 points.

For the rest of the day, investors will focus on the first estimate of US GDP for the first quarter, which is expected at 13:30 GMT.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that “it is not time yet” to begin discussing any change in policy after the US central bank left interest rates and its bond-buying programme unchanged, despite taking a more optimistic view of the country’s economic recovery.

Excerpts of Biden’s speech released in advance by the White House “hit the high points big infra(structure) spend, talking climate action and vaccines,” said John Milroy, investment adviser at Ord Minnett. “The Fed remains dovish, all very supportive.”

Tech shares got a boost after Apple Inc (AAPL.O) on Wednesday posted sales and profits ahead of Wall Street expectations, though it warned a global chip shortage could dent iPad and Mac sales by several billion dollars. read more

Wall Street ended lower on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 0.48 percent to end at 33,820.38 points, while the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 0.08 percent to 4,183.18.

The dollar pared up early losses against the yen to 108.61 and the euro gained 0.07 percent to 1.2132 following the Fed’s decision to maintain supportive policies.

Oil prices extended gains on Thursday after rising 1 percent in the previous session as bullish forecasts for a demand recovery this summer offset concerns of rising COVID-19 cases in India, Japan and Brazil.

Brent crude for June rose 0.27 percent to $67.45 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude for June was at $64.02 a barrel, up 0.25%.

Spot gold added 0.14 percent to $1,783.85 an ounce.

https://www.reuters.com/business/global-markets-wrapup-2-2021-04-29/

Category: FinanceAsia

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Asian lender forecasts strong rebound for region in 2021

Asian lender forecasts strong rebound for region in 2021

29-Apr-2021 Intellasia |
AP |
5:02 AM

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Developing Asian economies will grow at a solid 7.3 percent pace this year after contracting slightly in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Asian Development Bank says in its latest regional outlook.

But the regional lender said that forecast is in doubt as outbreaks of coronavirus flare in several countries, including Thailand, India and the Philippines.

Those setbacks threaten just as growth has been gaining momentum, said the ADB’s chief economist, Yasuyuki Sawada.

“Economies in the region are on diverging paths,” he said. “Their trajectories are shaped by the extent of domestic outbreaks, the pace of their vaccine rollouts, and how much they are benefiting from the global recovery.”

China, which first reported the virus and has been the first major economy to bounce back from the pandemic, is forecast to grow 8.1 percent this year, slowing to 5.5 percent in 2022, said the ADB report, released Wednesday.

It estimates that India’s economy will expand at an 11 percent pace in 2021, in line with similar forecasts from the International Monetary Fund and private economists.

Surging new cases in India at more than 300,000 per day for the past five days may derail that progress as hospitals are inundated with seriously ill patients, it noted.

So far, the overall impact of this spike in cases is unclear.

“Real-time data on traffic, electricity demand and mobility suggest that, so far at least, India’s virus outbreak has had more of an impact on behavior than it has on activity,” Shilan Shah of Capital Economics said in a separate report.

So far, the Indian government has resisted taking the sort of drastic lockdown measures it ordered in March 2020 when millions of workers were stranded in cities, unable to work or return to their villages.

“The big unknown is whether these restrictions will be sufficient to curb the outbreak. If not and it continues, more draconian measures may still be needed,” Shah said.

The ADB forecast that Myanmar’s economy will contract nearly 10 percent this year following a military coup that has thrust the country into turmoil. The economy grew at a modest 3.3 percent level in 2020, before the military seized power on February 1, provoking a mass civil disobedience campaign that has stifled most business activity.

The ADB economists did not foresee a significant increase in inflation, despite concerns in the US and elsewhere that massive government spending and other stimulus might spark surging prices.

The ADB expects inflation in the region to fall to 2.3 percent this year from 2.8 percent in 2020, when disruptions from the pandemic pushed food prices sharply higher in some places. The inflation rate for developing Asia is forecast to rise to 2.7 percent in 2022.

Apart from the cost of lost lives and misery, damage to health and productivity, the pandemic has extracted a harsh toll in many ways, wiping out millions of jobs, sinking families into poverty. It also has put children far behind in their studies, the report said.

The authors estimated that the cost to future earnings from school closures amounts to $1.25 trillion, or more than 5 percent of regional economic activity in 2020.

https://apnews.com/article/health-business-asia-coronavirus-1617ddaf33b7360381773f44c08a9b03

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Aspiri Financial Services To Join Focus Partner Connectus Wealth Advisors, Further Expanding Connectus’ Australian Footprint

Aspiri Financial Services To Join Focus Partner Connectus Wealth Advisors, Further Expanding Connectus’ Australian Footprint

28-Apr-2021 Intellasia |
Media OutReach |
3:15 PM

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NEW YORK, NY – EQS Newswire – 27 April 2021 – Focus Financial Partners Inc. (NASDAQ:FOCS) (“Focus”), a leading partnership of fiduciary wealth management firms, announced today that Connectus Wealth Advisers (“Connectus”) has entered into a definitive agreement under which the Aspiri Financial Services Group (“Aspiri”) will join Connectus. This transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions. 

Aspiri is a boutique wealth management firm headquartered in Newstead, Queensland. Founded in 2004 by Gavin Kelly, Aspiri serves high net worth individuals in Queensland and throughout Australia by providing personalized advice, discretionary investment management, superannuation services, estate planning and insurance advice. The firm leverages digital tools and tailored processes to deliver customized, holistic advice and a differentiated client experience.

“In Connectus, we have found a partner that understands our business and is aligned with our customized approach to serving clients,” said Gavin Kelly, Founder and Director of Aspiri. “The partnership with Connectus and Focus is the next step in our continued evolution to expand our value proposition. We are excited to join a collaborative community through which we will gain access to additional resources to accelerate growth and support the firm’s long-term succession plan.”

“We are excited to welcome Aspiri as the fourth firm to join Connectus since its initial expansion into Australia late last year,” said Rajini Kodialam, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Focus. “The addition of Aspiri is further evidence of Connectus’ continued strong momentum in Australia and will also increase its footprint in the broader Brisbane market. Through Aspiri, Connectus will gain complementary capabilities in investment management and the delivery of highly personalized client service, further strengthening the synergistic benefits of the consortium to its advisors. Australia is an important strategic market for Focus, and Connectus is a natural extension of our growing presence there.”

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Category: FinanceAsia, Media OutReach, PRAsia

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Asian lender forecasts strong rebound for region in 2021

Asian lender forecasts strong rebound for region in 2021

28-Apr-2021 Intellasia |
AP |
1:24 PM

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Developing Asian economies will grow at a solid 7.3% pace this year after contracting slightly in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Asian Development Bank says in its latest regional outlook.

But the regional lender said that forecast is in doubt as outbreaks of coronavirus flare in several countries, including Thailand, India and the Philippines.

Those setbacks threaten just as growth has been gaining momentum, said the ADB’s chief economist, Yasuyuki Sawada.

“Economies in the region are on diverging paths,” he said. “Their trajectories are shaped by the extent of domestic outbreaks, the pace of their vaccine rollouts, and how much they are benefiting from the global recovery.”

China, which first reported the virus and has been the first major economy to bounce back from the pandemic, is forecast to grow 8.1% this year, slowing to 5.5% in 2022, said the ADB report, released Wednesday.

It estimates that India’s economy will expand at an 11% pace in 2021, in line with similar forecasts from the International Monetary Fund and private economists.

Surging new cases in India — at more than 300,000 per day for the past five days — may derail that progress as hospitals are inundated with seriously ill patients, it noted.

So far, the overall impact of this spike in cases is unclear.

“Real-time data on traffic, electricity demand and mobility suggest that, so far at least, India’s virus outbreak has had more of an impact on behavior than it has on activity,” Shilan Shah of Capital Economics said in a separate report.

So far, the Indian government has resisted taking the sort of drastic lockdown measures it ordered in March 2020 when millions of workers were stranded in cities, unable to work or return to their villages.

“The big unknown is whether these restrictions will be sufficient to curb the outbreak. If not and it continues, more draconian measures may still be needed,” Shah said.

The ADB forecast that Myanmar’s economy will contract nearly 10% this year following a military coup that has thrust the country into turmoil. The economy grew at a modest 3.3% level in 2020, before the military seized power on Feb. 1, provoking a mass civil disobedience campaign that has stifled most business activity.

The ADB economists did not foresee a significant increase in inflation, despite concerns in the U.S. and elsewhere that massive government spending and other stimulus might spark surging prices.

The ADB expects inflation in the region to fall to 2.3% this year from 2.8% in 2020, when disruptions from the pandemic pushed food prices sharply higher in some places. The inflation rate for developing Asia is forecast to rise to 2.7% in 2022.

Apart from the cost of lost lives and misery, damage to health and productivity, the pandemic has extracted a harsh toll in many ways, wiping out millions of jobs, sinking families into poverty. It also has put children far behind in their studies, the report said.

The authors estimated that the cost to future earnings from school closures amounts to $1.25 trillion, or more than 5% of regional economic activity in 2020.

https://apnews.com/article/health-business-asia-coronavirus-1617ddaf33b7360381773f44c08a9b03

Category: FinanceAsia

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