Dollar towering, stocks cowering as Fed flags more hikes



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Fed surprises with aggressive hike projections

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Dollar/yen breaks 145 as BOJ stays dovish

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C.bank meetings ahead in Britain, Switzerland and Norway

By Tom Westbrook

SYDNEY, Sept 22 (Reuters) -

The dollar surged to a fresh two-decade high and stocks slid on Thursday with investors unsettled by the Federal Reserve's aggressive outlook for U.S. interest rates and braced for more hikes across Europe later in the day.

The euro EUR=EBS fell to a 20-year low in the Asia session, the yen JPY=EBS to a 24-year trough and sterling GBP=D3 to its lowest since 1985. Russia mobilising reservists for war in Ukraine added to the sombre mood.

Pan-European futures STXEc1 were last down 1.9% and FTSE futures FFIc1 down 0.9%. S&P 500 futures ESc1 fell 0.5%.

Asian stocks, measured by MSCI's broadest index of Asia shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS dropped 1.4% to a two-year low. Japan's Nikkei .N225 was 0.5% lower, though it found some support after the Bank of Japan stuck to its dovish policies.

"I think stock markets were still hoping the Fed would show some sign of halting the rate hikes at some point, but there was no sign of it," said Nomura strategist Naka Matsuzawa in Tokyo.

In the rates market, short-term yields remain on the rise and the peak for the benchmark Fed funds rate a moving target.

The median of Fed officials' own outlook has U.S. rates at 4.4% by year's end -- 100 bps higher than their June projection -- and even higher, at 4.6%, by the end of 2023.

Futures 0#FF: have scrambled to catch up. The yield on two-year Treasuries US2YT=RR hit a 15-year high of 4.1320% on Thursday. Ten-year yields US10YT=RR are below that, at 3.5477% as traders price in the hikes' damage to longer-run growth.

"No one knows whether this process will lead to a recession or if so how significant that recession would be," Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters after the rate hike announcement.

"The chances of a soft landing are likely to diminish to the extent that policy needs to be more restrictive, or restrictive for longer."

"WHAT ELSE DO YOU BUY?"

The rates outlook is helping drive the dollar higher as U.S. yields look attractive and investors think other economies look too fragile to sustain rates as high as those contemplated in the United States.

Japan and China are the outliers and their currencies are sliding particularly hard -- with the yen JPY=EBS falling to the weaker side of 145 per dollar on Thursday as the Bank of Japan stuck with its ultra-easy monetary policy.

Yields in Japan's government bond market also retreated as speculators closed some bets on imminent policy changes.

Hikes are expected later today in Indonesia, the Philippines, Britain, Switzerland and Norway, and big ones too.

A 100 bp hike is priced in for Switzerland, 50 bps is expected from Norges Bank and traders see an 80% chance of a 75 bp hike from the Bank of England.

Not that that is much salve for their currencies, since Sweden's crown SEK= is at a record low despite the country's steepest rate hike in a generation this week.

The dollar's rise has sent emerging market currencies tumbling and punished cryptocurrencies and commodities. Spot gold XAU= was down 0.7% on Thursday and near a two-year low at $1,661 an ounce. Bitcoin BTC=BTSP was just below $19,000.

Brent crude LCOc1 steadied at $90.33 a barrel after sliding on demand worries.

Sterling hit a 37-year low of $1.1221. The euro fell to $0.9810.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars were pinned near their lowest since mid-2020, with the Aussie AUD=D3 down 0.5% on Thursday at $0.6602 and the kiwi NZD=D3 down 0.4% at $0.5832.

"The Fed is not going to stop any time soon," said Sally Auld, chief investment officer at wealth manager JB Were in Sydney. "What else do you buy except for the U.S. dollar at the moment?"



World FX rates YTD Link
Global asset performance Link
Asian stock markets Link



Editing by Sam Holmes, Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Kim Coghill


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