Asian stocks rangebound before U.S. inflation, China hit by property woes

  • Stock Market News
Asian stocks rangebound before U.S. inflation, China hit by property woes
Credit: © Reuters. Most Asian stocks kept to a tight range on Tuesday as anticipation of key U.S. inflation data deterred any major trades, while Chinese markets retreated as another major property developer defaulted on bond payments. 

Regional markets traced a lack of committed moves on Wall Street, as traders remained wary of any major bets before inflation readings on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

U.S. stock index futures were also rangebound in Asian trade. 

Chinese stocks stall as property market hit with fresh defaults

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell about 0.3% each, pulling back further from their highest levels so far in 2024. Losses were driven chiefly by a drop in property market stocks.

Agile Group Holdings Ltd (HK: 3383 ) was at the heart of this decline. Hong Kong shares of the property developer slid nearly 15% after it said it defaulted on an interest rate payment on Monday.

The firm also clocked a sharp decline in sales in the first four months of 2024, as a property market slump showed little sign of easing. 

Concerns over a broader property market melt-down largely offset optimism over Beijing outlining plans for a massive bond issuance, which entails more fiscal stimulus for the country.

Losses in property stock also kept Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index trading sideways, although heavyweight technology stocks including Baidu Inc (NASDAQ: BIDU ) (HK: 9888 ), Alibaba Group (HK: 9988 ) (NYSE: BABA ) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (HK: 0700 ) advanced ahead of their quarterly earnings this week.

Sentiment towards China also remained skittish as recent reports suggested the Biden administration was considering more trade tariffs on China.

Broader Asian markets muted before U.S. inflation 

Broader Asian stocks moved in a flat-to-low range, as focus remained squarely on upcoming U.S. inflation data that is expected to factor into interest rates. 

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.1%, supported by an over 2% bounce in technology giant SoftBank Group Corp. (TYO: 9984 ) after it swung to a profit in the fourth quarter. The firm’s loss for fiscal 2024 also narrowed substantially from the prior year. 

Data on Tuesday showed Japanese producer price index inflation grew as expected in April. 

Australia’s ASX 200 fell 0.3%, while South Korea’s KOSPI was flat. 

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a flat open, as investors also remained wary of Indian markets amid the 2024 general elections. 

But the biggest point of focus across Asian markets was the upcoming U.S. inflation data. PPI inflation is due on Tuesday, while the more closely-watched consumer price index reading is due on Wednesday. 

Any signs of sticky inflation are likely to further diminish expectations of interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, and are likely to rattle markets. 

Inflation is also expected to remain well above the Fed’s 2% annual target rate, giving the central bank little impetus to immediately begin trimming rates.

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