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Asian Stocks Up, but “Rough Waters” Remain

Stock MarketsDec 08, 2021 13:30
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By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly up on Wednesday morning after U.S. shares saw their biggest rally in nine months and bets increase that the omicron COVID-19 variant will not hinder the global economic recovery.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.08% by 9:18 PM ET (2:18 AM GMT) and South Korea’s KOSPI rose 0.88%.

In Australia, the ASX 200 jumped 1.12%, with Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe due to speak on Thursday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index inched down 0.07%.

China’s Shanghai Composite was up 0.27% and the Shenzhen Component gained 0.49%. Chinese data, including the consumer and producer price indexes, is due on Thursday.

Trading in Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd.'s (HK:1638) Hong Kong shares was suspended on Wednesday, and the list of Chinese developers who might not be able to meet upcoming financial obligations is growing.

U.S. shares recorded their biggest gains since March 2021 on Tuesday, and U.S. Treasury yields increased across the curve. The two-year yield hit its highest level since March 2020 and the benchmark 10-year yield moved back toward 1.5%.

Investors are regaining their risk appetite after omicron’s discovery introduced a bout of market volatility. Omicron cases have not yet overwhelmed hospitals, and the Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)/BioNTech SE (F:22UAy) COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to provide partial protection against the variant in a South African study.

“This anecdotal evidence appears to have calmed financial markets, for now, as evidenced by the recovery in risk assets,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia strategist Carol Kong said in a note.

“But we caution against drawing conclusions from these early reports,” and unless omicron proves resistant to vaccines, “we expect the global economy will largely continue with its pre‑omicron recovery path,” the note added.

Other investors also warned that market volatility might not be done quite yet. Geopolitical tensions are also on the rise, with U.S. President Joe Biden warning Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of “strong” measures if Russia invades Ukraine.

DoubleLine Capital LP CEO Jeffrey Gundlach predicted “rough waters” ahead for financial markets as the U.S. Federal Reserve is set to accelerate asset tapering and hike interest rates earlier than expected. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. also warned dip buyers to proceed with caution amid the Fed’s hawkish stance as omicron spreads.

In other central bank news, the Reserve Bank of India will hand down its policy decision later in the day.

Asian Stocks Up, but “Rough Waters” Remain

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