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Asian stocks inch higher as rate-cut bets persist, Nikkei extends rally

Published 01/14/2024, 09:06 PM
Updated 01/14/2024, 09:06 PM
© Reuters. Most Asian stocks rose past early weakness on Monday as traders maintained bets that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates early, with Japanese markets extending a rally to 34-year highs.

But bigger gains were held back by anticipation of more key economic cues this week, including Chinese gross domestic product data and and Japanese inflation. Beijing’s reaction to the Taiwan presidential election also kept traders on edge.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was the best performer among its peers for a fourth straight session, rising 1.1% to a new 34-year high as the prospect of an ultra-dovish Bank of Japan kept traders heavily biased towards local stocks.

Japanese consumer price index (CPI) data due later this week is expected to show a sustained decline in inflation, setting a dovish tone for the BOJ when it meets later in January.

The Taiwan Weighted index rose 0.5% after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate William Lai won the Presidential election over the weekend- largely maintaining the status quo for the island in its resistance towards reunification with China.

Lai, along with the DPP, has constantly reiterated Taiwan’s independence- which has been a key point of ire for Beijing. The Chinese government maintained its calls for reunification over the weekend, and any more action from Beijing will be in close focus ahead of Lai’s official inauguration in May.

Chinese stocks held back by rate-cut disappointment, Q4 GDP awaited

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes rose 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.1%, with losses in heavyweight tech stocks limiting gains. Search engine giant Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) (HK:9888) slid as much as 10% after a report linked its Ernie artificial intelligence bot to the Chinese military, which could potentially attract U.S. sanctions.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) unexpectedly kept its medium-term lending rates on hold on Monday, as it struggles between shoring up economic growth and stemming further losses in the yuan. The move heralds no changes to the PBOC's key loan prime rate later in January.

Still, Chinese stocks took some support from a liquidity injection by the PBOC.

Monday's move showed that Beijing has limited headroom to further loosen monetary conditions and support growth- which could bode poorly for a fragile post-COVID economic recovery.

Focus this week is largely on fourth-quarter GDP data, due on Wednesday. While growth is expected to have surpassed the government’s 5% target for 2023, a bulk of that increase is also expected to come from a low basis for comparison from the prior year.

Chinese stocks were the worst-performing Asian markets in 2023, losing between 10% to 20% as a post-COVID economic rebound failed to materialize.

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Broader Asian markets advanced, albeit slightly, as traders maintained bets on early U.S. interest rate cuts following mixed cues on inflation. CPI inflation rose more than expected in December, while producer price index inflation fell more than expected.

A U.S. market holiday also made for scant trading cues on Monday.

Australia’s ASX 200 and South Korea’s KOSPI rose 0.1% each.

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a mildly positive open. Indian wholesale price index inflation is due later on Monday, coming after data on Friday showed a smaller-than-expected increase in CPI inflation.

Latest comments

7% up in Jan alone
BOJ - major sponsor of local stock market parasites.
BOJ lost all credibility. How can a country with a 0.7 birthrate and negative interest rates grow their market 10% in a month? Bullish on earthquake relief? That’s mental.
who knows what happened next prediction sometime not correct 🤔
Means more earthquakes are good for Japan economy
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