Asian stocks dented by hawkish Fedspeak, China rally fizzles

  • Stock Market News
Asian stocks dented by hawkish Fedspeak, China rally fizzles
Credit: © Reuters.

By Ambar Warrick Most Asian stock markets fell on Monday as hawkish comments from the Federal Reserve undercut optimism over smaller interest rate hikes by the central bank, while Chinese stocks reversed early gains as rising COVID-19 cases in the country weighed.

China’s blue-chip Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 index rose 0.2%, while the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.2%, with both bourses trading well below intraday highs as the country grapples with its worst outbreak in six months.

This largely offset optimism over new stimulus measures announced by the government, as well as the scaling back of some measures under China’s strict zero-COVID policy. Still, beleaguered property stocks surged on the prospect of more government relief.

Chinese markets rallied sharply on Friday after the government loosened some quarantine and movement measures under the zero-COVID policy - the first time it has ever done so.

But given that the country is dealing with a large spike in urban infections, chances of a full pullback in the near term appear slim.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was the best performer in Asia, rallying 2% and extending an over 7% jump from last week, after the local government also scaled back some COVID-linked curbs.

The Taiwan Weighted index also rose 1.2%, given that the country has a large exposure to Chinese markets.

Broader Asian stocks pulled back from recent gains on Monday after Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller warned that while the central bank is considering smaller rate hikes, it has no plans of softening its stance on inflation.

Waller’s comments follow data from last week that showed U.S. inflation grew less than expected in October. But given that the reading was still well above the Fed’s 2% annual target, the central bank is expected to keep raising rates in the near-term.

Markets are pricing in a nearly 81% chance the Fed will hike rates by a relatively smaller 50 basis points in December.

Rising interest rates were the biggest weight on Asian stock markets this year, as higher yields made stocks appear less attractive. Given that the Fed recently warned that U.S. interest rates will peak at higher-than-expected levels, pressure on regional markets is expected to persist.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index sank 0.9%, while India’s Nifty 50 index was flat. Australian stocks also reversed early gains to fall 0.2%, with major bank stocks weighing the most.

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