Asian currencies, stocks rebound amid Ukraine crisis

Emerging market currencies and stocks in Asia rose on Friday, tracking a broader recovery after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent global assets tumbling in the previous session, although sentiment was still cautious.

The Thai baht and the Indian rupee made a swift recovery against the dollar, with both jumping 0.4 percent each, even as oil prices surged nearly 3 percent.

However, the baht, which has outperformed all of its emerging Asian peers so far this year, was set for its worst weekly drop in a month.

“I think the baht has now become a barometer of emerging market currencies and its rebound suggests that investors are probably buying the dips,” said Margaret Yang, a Singapore-based strategist with DailyFX.

Analysts expect the volatility seen in Asian stocks during this week to guide the moves in the foreseeable future.

“The main drivers of this volatility – geopolitical tensions and inflation – particularly in energy and commodities and uncertainty about the pace and extent of monetary policy tightening – continue unabated,” said Manishi Raychaudhuri, head of Asia-Pacific equity research at BNP Paribas.

“Therefore, today’s recovery in Asian equities appears to be a technical rebound, in our view.”

Investors will closely watch any moves by the US Federal Reserve as its officials begin taking stock of how the Russia-Ukraine conflict might influence the economy and their planned shift to tighter monetary policy.

“Ukraine or no Ukraine, the US faces inflation that is running at a 40-year high. If inflation continues to print above expectations and run hot, then the Fed may still have to stick with its aggressive path this year. This is what could make trading difficult for Asian emerging markets, both currencies and stock markets,” IG Asia analyst Daniel Dubrovsky said.

Singapore’s dollar firmed 0.2 percent and the South Korean won reversed losses to gain 0.1 percent, while Indonesia’s rupiah and the Malaysian ringgit were up 0.1 percent each.

Asian equities tracked overnight Wall Street gains to jump higher, with Indian shares leading gains.

Shares in South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand gained in the range of 0.5 percent to 1 percent, while Malaysian stocks jumped 1.7 percent.

The Singapore index is, however, on track for a 4 percent weekly loss, its biggest drop in more than nine months. Kuala Lumpur shares were headed for their biggest weekly fall since January 28.

European bank shares also rebounded early on Friday from steep falls a day earlier, even as bankers wrestle with the impact of a slew of sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Shares of leading banks rose with the European banking sector trading up 1.3 percent. That is only a partial recovery from an 8 percent fall on Thursday.

Farah to return to action at London 10k

Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah will make his return to competition at the Vitality London 10,000 in May.

He fell short of the 10,000m selection time for last year’s Tokyo Olympics at the British Championships.

Farah, the 5,000m and 10,000m champion at both the London and Rio Games, is a seven-time winner of the London 10,000.

The race, won by Farah in five consecutive years between 2009 and 2013, and again in 2018 and its most recent edition in 2019, will take place on Monday 2 May.

“I’ve been working hard to get back into shape following my injury last summer and I’ve got a few more months of hard training ahead of me,” said Farah.

“I have great memories of the event. I have won it seven times and racing in central London is something you can never get bored of. The atmosphere among the thousands of participants is always fantastic and I can’t wait to be part of it again.”

Farah said he would consider his future after failing to qualify for Tokyo, saying: “If I can’t compete with the best why bother?”

He later told the BBC he had “been struggling for quite a while” but added he was determined to recover from the injury and finish his career on his own terms.

Rafael Nadal to meet Norrie in Acapulco final

Rafael Nadal continued his stunning start to 2022 by beating incoming world number one Daniil Medvedev to set up a Mexican Open final against Britain’s Cameron Norrie.

Norrie, 26, reached the final with a 6-4 6-4 win over Greece’s world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Norrie has won eight matches in a row after lifting the Delray Beach title.

The British number one, ranked 12th in the world, won the third ATP Tour title of his career in Florida last Sunday and now has the opportunity to claim another by beating Nadal.

The pair meet in the Acapulco final at 03:00 GMT on Sunday.

Nadal, 35, survived a second-set fightback from Medvedev, who will overtake Novak Djokovic at the top of the world rankings on Monday.

After a relatively straightforward opening set, the Spaniard had to see off 11 break points across two successive service games in the second set before clinching victory.

Nadal has won his opening 14 matches of 2022, recording the best start to a season in his career.

“I played some amazing points on those break points,” said Nadal, who fought back from two sets down to beat 26-year-old Medvedev in the Melbourne final four weeks ago.

“In the second set, Daniil was playing very aggressive, it was a very difficult set. I feel lucky to win that set.

“I’m really happy with the way I played, against the number one player in the world, and happy to play in the final.”

Norrie is aiming for the first win of his career against 21-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, who beat the Briton at the Australian, Barcelona and French Opens last year.

Against Tsitsipas, Norrie showed why he has been successful by being solid on serve and from the baseline.

Norrie broke Tsitsipas’s serve in the ninth game of each set before serving each out to love in the following game.

“I was able to dictate play to his backhand and defend my forehand quite well,” said Norrie, who faced just one break point.

“I definitely felt that better in the second set, and I think my game is pretty good in these conditions.”

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