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Asian stocks muted, China surges on zero-COVID bets

Stock Markets Dec 05, 2022 17:32
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By Ambar Warrick

Investing.com-- Most Asian markets traded sideways on Monday amid some uncertainty over U.S. monetary policy after strong payrolls data, while Chinese stocks surged as the government scaled back COVID restrictions in more cities.

China’s blue-chip Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 index rose 1.7%, while the Shanghai Composite index rose 1.6%, with both indexes touching their highest level since mid-September.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was the best performer in Asia, rising 3.5%. The index has now confirmed a bull market after rallying more than 20% from a 13-year low touched in October.

Hong Kong stocks have also vastly outperformed their Chinese peers in recent months, as the city scaled back its anti-COVID policies ahead of the mainland.

Several cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai, relaxed some movement curbs and testing mandates over the weekend, amid growing public discontent with the country’s strict zero-COVID policy.

But while reports suggest that China plans to further relax anti-COVID measures, analysts said that COVID cases are likely to escalate further, causing some near-term market volatility.

The country is grappling with a record-high rate of daily infections, which saw the introduction of strict curbs in the past few months, denting economic activity.

Broader Asian stocks were somewhat muted, as a batch of weak economic data raised concerns over slowing near-term growth. Stocks also took a weak lead-in from Wall Street, which fell on Friday after data showed U.S. nonfarm payrolls grew more than expected in November.

The reading gives the Federal Reserve more space to keep hiking interest rates, given that the central bank said it would seek some cooling in the jobs market as part of its stance against inflation.

Stocks with higher risk exposure declined after the reading, with most Southeast Asian bourses retreating sharply. Malaysian stocks were the worst performers in the region, down 0.6%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.1% as data showed the country’s business activity shrank substantially in November, heralding more pressure on the Japanese economy.

Australia’s ASX 200 index rose 0.3%, with data showing that gross company profits in the country slumped 12.4% in the third quarter from the second. Australia’s service sector also contracted for a third straight month in November.

India's Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex 30 indexes fell 0.2% and 0.3%, respectively, retreating further from record highs amid some uncertainty over a central bank meeting this week.

The Reserve Bank is widely expected to hike rates by a relatively smaller 25 basis points.

Asian stocks muted, China surges on zero-COVID bets
 

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