(Reuters) An uneasy calm settled on Asian markets on Wednesday as a brewing financial crisis in Russia and the rout in oil prices sent investors scurrying for the cover of top-rated bonds.
Yields on British, German and Japan sovereign debt had all hit record lows while long-dated U.S. yields reached their lowest since late 2012.
Asian share markets were mixed with Japan’s Nikkei recouping 0.5 percent of its recent hefty losses. MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.2 percent from a nine-month trough.
The stakes were all the greater as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting of the year could well see it drop a commitment to keeping rates low for a “considerable period.”
That would be taken as a step toward raising interest rates, even as growth in the rest of the world sputters and falling commodity prices add to the danger of disinflation.
A new wrinkle was the risk of financial contagion spreading from Russia where an emergency hike in interest rates failed to stop the ruble’s descent to new lows.
It was quoted around 68.00 to the dollar having been as far as 80.00 at one stage on Tuesday as speculation mounted that Moscow will impose capital controls within the next few days.