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Asian stocks mixed as China woes offset Fed cheer; Nifty hits record high

Published 2023/12/04, 06:10
© Reuters.

Investing.com-- Asian stocks were a mixed bag on Monday, as strong cues from U.S. markets, on the prospect of an early interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve, were offset by persistent concerns over an economic slowdown in China. 

Australia’s ASX 200 and South Korea’s KOSPI were among the better performers for the day, rising 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively, as optimism over an early rate cut aided commodity and technology stocks. Markets were also betting that the Reserve Bank of Australia will keep interest rates on hold when it meets on Tuesday. 

Indian stocks were the best performers for the day, with the Nifty 50 hitting a record high after a major election victory by ruling party BJP.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell struck a less hawkish tone than markets were expecting during a series of addresses on Friday. In particular, the Fed Chair’s comments on a more balanced approach to tight monetary conditions and a soft landing for the U.S. economy fueled more bets that the central bank was done raising interest rates, and could cut rates by as soon as March 2024. 

This notion sparked a rush into risk-driven assets, which saw Wall Street indexes rally on Friday. U.S. stock futures were steady in Asian trade on Monday, with focus now on key nonfarm payrolls data due this Friday. 

But optimism towards Asian markets was largely held back by China, following a string of weak economic readings from the country over the past week. Manufacturing activity remained in contraction, while growth in non-manufacturing industries was at its lowest for the year, according to government data.

This kept Chinese indexes trading largely lower, with the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite moving in a flat-to-low range on Monday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.6%, weighed down chiefly by mainland stocks.

Focus this week is on more economic cues from China, particularly trade data for November. But the trend is expected to remain weak amid dwindling exports. 

Property developers were a sole bright spot in Chinese markets on Monday, after debt-saddled developer China Evergrande Group (HK:3333) won some breathing room in a winding up petition against the firm. 

A Hong Kong court adjourned a liquidation petition against the firm to end-January, giving the developer more time to hash out a restructuring proposal with its debtors. 

Evergrande’s Hong Kong Shares rallied over 10%, with shares of most other property developers also clocking gains. 

Among broader Asian markets, Japan’s Nikkei 225 sank 0.9%, weighed chiefly by export-oriented stocks as the yen regained some lost ground against the dollar. Japanese stocks were also more sensitive to profit taking after vastly outperforming their Asian peers this year.

Indian stocks surge to record high on BJP victory

India’s Nifty 50 index opened 1.4% higher, touching a record high of 20,589.35 points after ruling party BJP clinched key state election victories in three states, setting it up for reelection in the 2024 general election. 

Investors have largely welcomed the industry-friendly measures introduced by the BJP over its past nearly 10 years in power, which saw India become the fastest-growing major economy.

Data last week showed India's gross domestic product grew substantially more than expected in the September quarter.

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