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Asian stocks slip on weak Chinese inflation, disappointing earnings

Published 2023/08/09, 05:38
© Reuters.
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Investing.com -- Most Asian stocks fell slightly on Wednesday as weak Chinese inflation data drummed up concerns over the region’s biggest economy, while a batch of weak earnings also weighed. 

Regional stocks took a negative lead-in from Wall Street, as U.S. stock indexes fell after Moody’s slashed the ratings of 10 banks, and warned that it could downgrade six more on concerns over weakening profitability and funding risks. 

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was among the worst performers for the day, down 0.4% as weak earnings from SoftBank Group (TYO:9984) and Nikon Corp (TYO:7731) weighed. SoftBank (OTC:SFTBY) sank over 3% after it posted an unexpected loss for the June quarter, while Nikon (OTC:NINOY) slumped 13% as its quarterly profit fell 78%.

Focus is now on quarterly earnings from tech and media giant Sony Corp (TYO:6758), due later in the day. The stock was flat.

Chinese stocks head lower on weak inflation reading

Chinese stocks edged lower after data showed that consumer price index inflation shrank in the 12 months to July - its first such contraction in nearly two years. Producer price index (PPI) inflation also fell for a 10th straight month.

But CPI grew slightly in July from the prior month, while PPI also fell at a marginally slower pace in July, indicating that spending was picking up in the country, albeit slightly.

The Shanghai Composite and Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 indexes fell 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.1%, as persistent losses in property stocks offset gains in safe-haven pharmaceuticals.

Wednesday’s weak Chinese inflation data follows disappointing readings on both imports and exports for July, and presents more economic headwinds for China as a post-COVID recovery runs out of steam.

Weakness in China also bodes poorly for the Asian countries that depend on the mainland as a major trading partner. The Taiwan Weighted index fell 0.2% on Wednesday, while Malaysian shares lost 0.2%. 

South Korea’s KOSPI was among the few outliers for the day, rising 1.1% as an unexpected increase in the unemployment rate pushed up hopes that the Bank of Korea will be forced into cutting interest rates sooner than expected.

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a slightly positive open, ahead of a Reserve Bank meeting this week.

Strong bank stocks buoy Australia’s ASX 200

Australia’s ASX 200 added 0.1% for the day, helped chiefly by gains in heavyweight bank stocks after Commonwealth Bank Of Australia (ASX:CBA) - the country’s biggest lender - posted a record annual profit.

The stock rose 2.4%, while its big four peers - ANZ Group Holdings Ltd (ASX:ANZ), Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC), and National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX:NAB) - rose between 0.5% and 1.4%.

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