Asia stocks slide on China COVID protests, India near record highs
By Ambar Warrick
Investing.com-- Most Asian stock markets slumped on Monday amid worsening protests in China against the Government’s strict zero-COVID policy, while Indian stocks traded near record highs as markets positioned for smaller interest rate hikes in the country.
Chinese stocks fell sharply, with the blue-chip Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 index down 1.7%, while the Shanghai Composite index lost 1.2%. Hong Kong stocks were the worst performers in Asia with the Hang Seng logging a 2.1% decline.
Chinese protestors clashed with the police in several major cities over the weekend, amid growing discontent with movement and activity curbs under the government’s strict zero-COVID policy. A deadly fire in the country’s far west, which was reportedly worsened by lockdown measures, triggered the latest, albeit unprecedented, round of civil disobedience.
The civil unrest comes as record-high daily infection counts saw China reimpose strict curbs in several major cities. This raised concerns that the Chinese economy could face increased headwinds in the near-term and risk a potential slowdown.
Other China-exposed markets retreated on this notion. South Korea’s KOSPI index shed 1.1%, while the Taiwan Weighted index fell 1.2%. Taiwan stocks also came under pressure after President Tsai Ing-wen resigned as the head of the ruling party after it suffered losses in a local election last week.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.5%. Low-risk havens such as the dollar saw increased buying on Monday.
Bucking the trend, Indian stocks rose slightly and traded near record highs amid growing expectations that the Reserve Bank of India will hike interest rates by a smaller margin in the coming months.
Bets on such a scenario grew after Indian inflation appeared to have eased substantially in October, lowering the need for more sharp rate hikes.
The blue-chip Nifty 50 index rose 0.2%, as did the benchmark BSE Sensex 30 . Both indexes were trading close to lifetime highs, also taking support from dovish Federal Reserve signals last week.
Despite a weakening rupee and headwinds from commodity markets, the Indian economy is poised to be one of the best-performing economies this year, with a projected growth rate of 6.8% in 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Philippine stocks also outperformed, jumping 1% after gaining the most among their regional peers last week.
Most Asian stocks rose over the past two weeks as investors piled into risk-heavy assets on the prospect of smaller interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
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