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Asian stocks: China rises, others mixed as Powell dampens rate cut hopes

Published 17/04/2024, 01:06 pm
© Reuters.

Investing.com-- Most Asian stocks moved in a flat-to-low range on Wednesday amid waning expectations for U.S. interest rate cuts, while Chinese markets advanced amid some signs of economic recovery. 

Regional markets took a weak lead-in from Wall Street after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the bank had little confidence to begin cutting interest rates, amid sticky inflation. 

Still, U.S. stock index futures rose marginally in Asian trade as a rout on Wall Street now appeared overdone. 

Chinese stocks rise after positive GDP, stimulus hopes

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes were among the better performers in Asia on Wednesday, rising 0.4% and 0.9%, respectively.

The two indexes maintained some momentum after rebounding from five-year lows over the past two months. 

Sentiment towards China improved this week after gross domestic product data showed the economy grew more than expected in the first quarter. But softer industrial production and retail sales data for March suggested that this momentum was now slowing.

But the mixed data also drummed up expectations that Beijing will keep rolling out more stimulus measures to help support the economy. The Chinese government was also seen deploying more measures to support the stock market in recent sessions. 

Gains in China, however, did not spill over into Hong Kong, with the Hang Seng index trading down 0.5%. 

Rate cut hopes wane after Powell comments, Asian stocks mixed 

Powell’s overnight comments saw markets further question whether the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in June. 

This notion weighed on most stock markets, and kept Asian bourses moving in a flat-to-low range. Sentiment towards Asia was also dampened by data showing a sharp drop in Singapore’s non-oil exports, which are seen as a bellwether for trade in the region. 

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.2%, while the TOPIX slid 0.7%. Data on Wednesday showed Japanese exports grew more than expected in March on a weaker yen. But imports fell sharply.

Australia’s ASX 200 rose 0.2% even as major miners Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO) and BHP Group Ltd (ASX:BHP) fell tracking weak production and sales figures from Rio Tinto. BHP will report its quarterly production figures on Thursday.

South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.3%, while Indian markets were closed for a holiday.

Focus this week was now on more comments from Fed officials, as well as Japanese inflation data for more cues on major economies.

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