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Asian stocks hit by rate jitters, China extends losses

Published 24/05/2024, 01:02 pm
© Reuters.
- Most Asian stocks sank on Friday, tracking weakness in Wall Street as increasing anxiety over sticky U.S. inflation and high interest rates battered sentiment towards risk-driven assets.

Chinese markets extended losses after clocking steep declines on Thursday, as a brewing trade war with the U.S. and military drills near Taiwan kept investors on edge. 

U.S. stock index futures steadied in Asian trade, after Wall Street indexes fell sharply on Thursday following a string of warnings on inflation and interest rates from Federal Reserve officials. 

A rally in market darling NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA)- on stellar first-quarter earnings- helped limit bigger losses in the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ Composite. But this rally did not spill over into Asia, with regional chipmakers facing their own headwinds. 

Chinese markets fall further, Hong Kong walloped by tech rout 

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively, extending sharp declines from the prior session.

China was hit with a wave of negative sentiment this week as a trade war with the U.S. appeared to have escalated. The People’s Liberation Army was also seen conducting military drills near Taiwan, pointing to worsening tensions in the region. 

But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index saw outsized losses, hit by an extended rout in heavyweight technology stocks. The index slid 1.5% on Friday, adding to a 1.7% drop on Thursday. 

Alibaba Group (NYSE:BABA) (HK:9988) fell another 1% following a 5.2% tumble in the prior session, after it said it was issuing $5 billion in convertible bonds to spur growth.

Losses in the tech giant dragged its peers Baidu Inc (HK:9888) (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (HK:0700) lower, while investors collected profits in property stocks in anticipation of more insight into Beijing’s stimulus measures. 

Asian stocks fall as markets price out US rate cuts 

Broader Asian markets fell on Friday, extending losses from the prior session as a slew of hawkish signals from the Fed- particularly warnings on sticky inflation and unchanging interest rates- saw investors largely price out expectations for interest rate cuts this year.

Australia’s ASX 200 shed 1.1%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 and TOPIX lost 1.1% and 0.5%, respectively.

Sentiment towards Japan was also hit by data showing consumer inflation softened as expected in April, reflecting persistent weakness in spending. 

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a weak open, with the index set for profit-taking after clocking record highs on Thursday. 

Samsung sinks on HBM woes, dragging KOSPI lower 

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS:005930) over 2% on Friday after Reuters reported that the memory chip making giant’s high bandwidth memory (HBM) chips were still not meeting Nvidia’s standards, due to heating and power issues. 

The report highlighted potential issues with the firm’s ambitions to gain a foothold in advanced HBM chips- demand for which is set to grow exponentially on the back of artificial intelligence. 

Losses in Samsung dragged South Korea’s KOSPI index over 1% lower. Samsung’s peer SK Hynix Inc (KS:000660), which supplies HBM chips to Nvidia, fell slightly.

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