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Asian stocks dip as China weighs, rate anxiety builds before Powell

Published 03/05/2024, 10:04 PM
© Reuters.
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Investing.com-- Most Asian stocks fell on Wednesday with an underwhelming economic outlook from China providing little support, while overnight losses in Wall Street spilled over as markets grew skittish before more signals on U.S. rates. 

Regional markets were also hit with an extended bout of profit-taking, particularly in Japan and Australia, as an artificial intelligence-driven rally in technology shares now appeared to be running dry.

Wall Street indexes saw a similar trend in overnight trade. U.S. stock futures were muted in Asian trade on Wednesday, with focus largely turning to a two-day testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for more cues on interest rates.

Powell is largely expected to maintain his hawkish rhetoric and signal rates will remain steady in the near-term.

Chinese shares dip on weak growth outlook

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively. Sentiment towards China remained weak after Beijing presented a largely underwhelming, 5% gross domestic product target for 2024, the same as the prior year.

The 2024 National People’s Congress also failed to provide any clear cues on how Beijing planned to roll out more support for the Chinese economy, which is struggling with a post-COVID economic recovery. 

While Chinese stocks had closed higher on Tuesday, this was largely attributed to buying by state-backed funds, who have been instructed by Beijing to intervene more in markets.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1% on Wednesday, recovering mildly from a 2.5% tumble in the prior session. 

Broader Asian stocks edged lower. Japan’s Nikkei 225 continued to pull back from record highs hit last week, while the broader TOPIX index rose slightly.

Australia’s ASX 200 fell 0.1%, with further losses stemmed by data showing Australian GDP remained in expansion through the fourth quarter. But its pace of growth is  expected to face more pressure in the coming quarters.

Losses in technology stocks dragged South Korea’s KOSPI 0.5% lower, as tech stocks were hit with extended profit-taking after a strong melt-up over the past month. Data showing hotter-than-expected consumer inflation also weighed on South Korean markets.

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a muted open, although the index and the BSE Sensex 30 remained in sight of recent record highs. 

Apple’s Asian suppliers fall on weak China sales 

Asian tech stocks were also pressured by losses in regional Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) suppliers, after media reports showed Chinese sales of its flagship iPhone slumped 24% in the first six weeks of 2024. 

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS:005930) and SK Hynix Inc (KS:000660) lost about 1% each, while Hong Kong’s AAC Technologies Holdings Inc (HK:2018) slid 2.4%. 

In Japan, Murata Mfg Co (TYO:6981) fell 1.2%, while Sony Corp (TYO:6758), which supplies display and camera units to Apple, fell 0.4%. 

Taiwan's TSMC (TW:2330) and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (TW:2317) fell 0.3% and 1.5%, respectively.

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