Asian stocks tumbled to near 2-1/2-month lows as investors continue to re-asses the suitability of investments in the region given the likelihood of a U.S. interest rate hike next month. The U.S. dollar index rose slightly to 95.33, within striking distance of Thursday's peak of 95.520 - the highest level it has traded at since March 29. "The yen gained as risk aversion overcame the Fed officials' hawkish views. Upward pressure on the yen was stronger due to weaker stocks and falling commodities," Junichi Ishikawa, FX analyst at IG Securities in Tokyo told Reuters. "That said, the dollar index has stood tall overall amid a significant rise in the two-year U.S. Treasury yield. Trades preparing for a potential Fed rate hike in June are likely to continue."Find out what's going on in today's market and bring any questions you have to Benzinga's PreMarket Prep.
Japan's Nikkei index was one of the region's worst performers, having lost 0.94 percent. China's Shanghai index lost 0.77 percent, Taiwan's TSEC index lost 0.52 percent and Australia's ASX index lost 0.43 percent. India's Mumbai index gained 0.30 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.11 percent. On the other hand, European stocks were mostly higher with more than 4 hours of trading remaining. According toMarketWatch
, European stocks were jolted by the appearance of UBS' Chairman Axel Weber on CNBC who said he is optimistic of a pickup in trading activity the bottom half of the year. On the flip side, Augustin Eden, a market analyst at Accendo Markets told MarketWatch that the recent gains in European stocks is a "pretty strong move over a short period of time" and "it may not have legs." Regardless, France's CAC index gained 1.42 percent, Germany's DAX gained 0.90 percent and the UK's FTSE index gained 0.76 percent. Meanwhile, the price of oil was lower for the fifth consecutive day and on track for the longest losing streak since January.Reuters
noted that Iraq's oil output reached 4.7 million barrels per day (bpd) while exports are at a record high of 3.9 million bpd. Meanwhile, Iran's narrative hasn't changed and the country is hoping its crude export capacity will reach 2.2 million barrels by the middle of summer. Brent crude futures fell $0.25 to $48.10 a barrel while U.S. WTI crude futures fell $0.15 to $47.93 a barrel.
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