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Asian Stocks Up Despite Disappointing Chinese Data, Retail Trading Concerns

Stock MarketsJan 31, 2021 10:02PM ET
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By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly up on Monday morning, climbing despite disappointing economic data from China and lingering worries about the impact of retail trading.

China’s Shanghai Composite edged down 0.13% by 9:48 PM ET (2:48 AM GMT), while the Shenzhen Component rose 1.10%.

The economic data, released on Sunday, indicated a slowdown in the Chinese economic recovery. January’s manufacturing PMI was 51.3, against the 51.6 in forecasts prepared by and December’s 51.9 reading. The Caixin manufacturing PMI was 51.5, against the 52.7 in the forecasts and December’s 53 reading. The non-manufacturing PMI came in at 52.4, against December’s 55.7, with the Caixin services PMI due later in the week.

Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China said that it would not drive-up borrowing costs further over growing concerns about a cash squeeze.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.70% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.82%. South Korea’s KOSPI jumped 1.49%, boosted by positive trade data released earlier in the day. Exports grew 11.4% year-on-year in January, while imports grew 3.1% year-on-year.

In Australia, the ASX 200 was up 0.62%, with the Reserve Bank of Australia handing down its policy decision on Tuesday. Perth in Western Australia state also entered a five-day lockdown after a COVID-19 case was recorded in the city.

U.S. shares closed around 2% lower on Friday amid continued concern about the implications of short-squeezes encouraged on internet forums. Global stocks retreated as retail trading wreaked havoc on some U.S. shares during the previous week.

Meanwhile, silver futures opened over 7% higher as the precious metal became the latest subject to be discussed on the forums.

Retail sites were overwhelmed as increased demand for bars and coins saw demand for silver spike on Sunday. Comments encouraging the purchase of exchange-traded funds linked to silver had begun appearing on Reddit forum r/WallStreetBets during the previous week.

“You have a number of players out there who are finding hedge funds and others with short positions and they’re corralling thousands of investors to squeeze them out … I caution the thinking that this is just a one-off, as we are already talking about silver this morning,” Centersquare Investment Management LLC chief investment officer Scott Crowe told Bloomberg.

On the COVID-19 front, investors digested continuing uncertainty on vaccine rollout programs globally. The U.S. will also release its January payrolls report, including nonfarm payrolls, that will provide the first glimpse of hiring in 2021, on Friday.

Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) Group Holding Ltd (HK:9988) and GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) are some of the companies due to report their results throughout the week.

On the central bank front, the Bank of England will hand down its policy decisions on Thursday.

Asian Stocks Up Despite Disappointing Chinese Data, Retail Trading Concerns

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