Asian stocks surge, China lags on muted GDP outlook

  • Stock Market News
Asian stocks surge, China lags on muted GDP outlook
Credit: © Reuters.

By Ambar Warrick -- Most Asian stocks rose on Monday as markets reassessed their outlook for U.S. interest rate hikes, although Chinese indexes lagged their peers following a weaker-than-expected forecast on annual economic growth.

Technology-heavy bourses were the best performers, tracking a strong lead-in from Wall Street indexes. The Taiwan Weighted index jumped 1.2%, while South Korea’s KOSPI added 1%.

The South Korean index was also boosted by lower-than-expected consumer inflation data for February, which furthers the case for a pause in interest rate hikes by the Bank of Korea .

On the other hand, China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 index fell 0.6%, while the Shanghai Composite index shed 0.3% after government officials set a 5% economic growth target for 2023 over the weekend.

The target was seen as softer than analyst expectations, and presents a moderate outlook for Asia’s largest economy as it emerges from three years of COVID disruptions.

Recent data showed that Chinese business activity rebounded sharply in February after the relaxing of anti-COVID restrictions. But the country may have to contend with a slowdown in external demand, as global economic conditions cool under rising interest rates and high inflation.

Chinese inflation and trade data for February is due later this week, and is expected to shed more light on Asia’s largest economy.

Broader Asian stocks advanced amid some bets that U.S. interest rates could peak in the coming months. But most bourses were also nursing steep losses from February, given that hotter-than-expected inflation readings kept fears of the Federal Reserve high.

Markets are now awaiting a testimony by Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday, which is expected to provide more cues on monetary policy.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.2%, with markets betting that the Bank of Japan will keep its ultra-loose policy unchanged in the near-term. Soft inflation data released on Friday furthered this notion.

The BOJ is set to meet later this week , and is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged at record lows. Any changes to the bank’s yield curve control measures are also in focus.

India’s Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex 30 indexes rose 0.9% and 0.3%, respectively, in early trade. Heavyweight technology stocks tracked gains in their U.S. peers.

Stocks under the Adani Group also extended a rally into a second session after boutique investment firm GQG Partners (ASX: GQG ) invested $1.87 billion in the troubled conglomerate. Adani Enterprises Ltd (NS: ADEL ), the group’s flagship firm, surged nearly 9%.

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