Asian markets struggled to hold early gains on Monday after last week’s global rout, with analysts warning of further volatility across trading floors. After a stellar 2017 and a January that saw record and multi-year highs around the world, traders are scurrying to the hills this month as a strong economic outlook — particularly in the US — healthy corporate earnings and rising inflation have sent borrowing costs surging. Equity markets, for years buoyed by post-crisis stimulus, have spiralled into the red as traders fret that the era of cheap cash is at an end. Monday got off to a calm start but while some managed to stay in positive territory, the afternoon saw gains eroded or wiped out. Hong Kong, which sank more than nine percent last week, was up 0.7 percent in the afternoon before a late sell-off saw it close 0.2 percent lower, though Shanghai closed up 0.8 percent and Singapore rose 0.1 percent. Seoul gained 0.9 percent, with traders cheered by signs of a thaw in relations between North and South Korea during the Winter Olympics after Kim Jong Un — whose sister attended the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang — invited the South’s President Moon Jae-in for a summit in Pyongyang. Taipei added 0.5 percent and Bangkok 0.3 percent but Sydney eased 0.3 percent and Manila dipped 0.5 percent. Tokyo was closed for a public holiday. The gains came after a late rally on Wall Street helped all three main indexes end on a positive note Friday, though still well down over the week. However, there are expectations that profit-taking will lead to further losses, with Brian Culpepper at James Investment Research warning: “Stocks are extremely expensive.” Eyes are now on the release this week of US inflation figures, which market-watchers say will be key to future movements. Published in Daily Times, February 13th 2018.