Asian Equities Mostly Higher as S&P 500 Hits 2023 High, Fed Rate Pause Bets

Shares in Asian markets mostly rose on Friday, after the S&P 500 hit a new record high for the year, as traders increased the odds that the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates at its upcoming meeting.

As of 9.34 A.M. Bangkok time, the Nikkei 225 in Japan was 1.61% higher. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.90%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.29%.

Meanwhile in China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.24%, reversing from a three-day rally, and the Shanghai Composite down 0.13%.

U.S. stock markets rose across the board overnight, led by a 1.02% gain in the Nasdaq Composite and followed by 0.62% and 0.5% increases in the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average.

One in four traders now expect the Fed to raise rates by a quarter point on June 14, while the majority (75%) expect a pause, according to a Reuters report. But market expectations place the likelihood of a rise at around 80% for the July 26 decision.

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims soared to a more than 1-and-a-half-year high overnight, lending credence to wagers for a pause.

Next week, markets will focus on the Federal Reserve’s June 13 and 14 policy meeting.