By Ambar Warrick
Investing.com-- Losses in technology stocks dragged Asian markets lower on Thursday following similar declines in their U.S. peers, while concerns over more hawkish moves by the Federal Reserve and rising COVID-19 cases in China also weighed.
Chinese stocks were the worst performers among their peers, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index tumbling over 2%. China’s bluechip Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 index sank 1.3%, while the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.9%.
Waning optimism over a potential reopening in China weighed heavily on regional markets, especially as the country logged its highest daily rise in COVID-19 cases since mid-April.
Weak economic data released this week also showed that the Chinese economy is struggling to navigate through renewed curbs on activity.
Technology-heavy Asian bourses fell the most on Thursday after U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology Inc (NASDAQ: MU ) issued a bleak outlook for the sector. Wall Street indexes also slumped, with the NASDAQ Composite falling the most.
South Korea’s KOSPI index slumped 1.2%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.4%. Sentiment towards Japanese stocks was also dented by data that showed Japan’s trade deficit widened more than expected in October.
Technology stocks were also dented as markets reassessed their expectations of U.S. inflation . While stronger-than-expected U.S. retail sales data showed some resilience in the economy, it also indicated that price pressures may not be easing as quickly as thought.
This saw traders pricing in the possibility of more interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, given that the bank has signaled that curbing inflation is its top priority.
Markets are pricing in anthat the Fed will hike rates by a relatively smaller 50 basis points in December. But the bank has also indicated that U.S. interest rates, which are already at their highest level since the 2008 financial crisis, could peak at higher levels.
Indian stocks fell somewhat lesser than their peers, with the blue-chip Nifty 50 index losing 0.3%. The prospect of smaller interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank, thanks to easing inflationary pressures, has buoyed the country’s stocks in recent sessions.
MSCI Singapore slumped 0.7% after data showed the country’s trade surplus shrank further in October. Non-oil exports , which are a key driver of Singapore’s economy, dropped far more than expected during the month, amid weakening demand in China.
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