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Asian stocks sink on recession fears, Nikkei slammed by weak data

Published 12/16/2022, 12:22 AM
Updated 12/16/2022, 12:28 AM
© Reuters.

By Ambar Warrick

Investing.com-- Most Asian stock markets sank on Friday and were set for weekly declines as a slew of hawkish central bank signals brewed concerns over a potential recession, with Japan’s Nikkei lagging its peers as weak manufacturing activity data battered major industrial stocks.

Most regional bourses were also set for steep weekly losses this week, with technology-heavy indexes losing the most. The sector logged sharp declines this year amid rising interest rates, and is set for little relief in the near-term.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index sank nearly 2% on Friday, with industrial stocks weighing the most after data showed the country’s manufacturing sector shrank more than expected in December. While overall business activity still expanded thanks to strength in the services sector, softening industrial production bodes poorly for the economy in the long-term.

The Nikkei 225 was set to lose about 1.4% this week.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was a sole outlier on Friday, rising 0.1% as firms with U.S. listings rose on a more favorable regulatory outlook. Still, the index was the worst performer in Asia this week with a 2.6% slump

Majors including Alibaba Group (HK:9988) and JD.com Inc (HK:9618) rose after the U.S. accounting watchdog said on Thursday that it gained full access to audit firms in China, reducing the risk of those firms being delisted from U.S. exchanges.

But Chinese stocks sank as the U.S. government added 22 major Chinese firms to a trade blacklist on Thursday, widening its crackdown on China’s semiconductor industry. The Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes lost about 0.4% each, with technology stocks losing the most.

Chinese indexes were also set to lose about 1.4% each this week, as rising COVID-19 cases in the country heightened concerns over a delayed economic reopening.

Volatility over China’s reopening spilled over to several other regions that were exposed to the county. South Korea’s KOSPI, the Taiwan Weighted index, and Australia’s ASX 200 index shed 0.8% to 1.6% on Friday. The three bourses were also set to lose 0.7% to 1.6% this week.

India’s Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex 30 indexes fell 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively, and were set to lose 0.9% and 2.1% this week as they retreated further from record highs hit earlier this month.

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