Asia stocks cautiously advance as Powell talk looms

  • Stock Market News
Asia stocks cautiously advance as Powell talk looms
Credit: © Reuters.

By Ambar Warrick -- Most Asian stocks rose on Tuesday as major regional bourses recouped some recent losses, although gains were limited in anticipation of more economic cues from an address by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was the best performer for the day, rising 0.9% as it recovered from three days of steep losses. Technology heavyweights Tencent Holdings Ltd (HK: 0700 ) and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (HK: 9988 ) added about 1.7% each.

Baidu Inc (HK: 9888 ) was the best performer for the day, rallying over 14% after the search engine operator said it will complete testing a ChatGPT-styled artificial intelligence project called “Ernie Bot” by March. The move reflects the growing popularity of generative artificial intelligence, particularly among stock buyers seeking exposure to the trend.

Chinese markets were slightly higher, with the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes adding about 0.3% each.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was flat amid continued uncertainty over the path of monetary policy in the country, as media reports fueled speculation over the next Bank of Japan Governor.

Broader Asian markets rose slightly, with focus now turning to a discussion with Fed Chair Powell at the Economic Club of Washington D.C. later in the day. His comments on the U.S. economy and monetary policy will be closely watched after substantially stronger-than-expected nonfarm payrolls data rattled markets last week.

Strength in the jobs market gives the Fed enough headroom to keep raising interest rates, a scenario that bodes poorly for Asian stocks. The central bank’s rate hike cycle had decimated regional markets through 2022.

Regional central banks are also in focus this week. Australia’s ASX 200 index fell 0.5% on Tuesday after the Reserve Bank hiked interest rates as expected, and said more hikes were in order for inflation to ease to a manageable level. The central bank also warned of slowing economic growth in the country.

Indian stocks moved little, with the Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex 30 indexes falling 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively. Focus this week is on a Reserve Bank of India meeting , where the central bank is widely expected to raise interest one last time before announcing a pause to its current rate hike cycle.

Stocks under beleaguered conglomerate Adani Group appeared to have ceased their recent rout after the firm said it will prematurely repay a $1.1 billion loan backed by shares of several companies under the conglomerate.

Adani Enterprises Ltd (NS: ADEL ), the conglomerate’s flagship firm, rose nearly 8% in early trade.

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