Markets mixed after Wall St losses, Shanghai and Hong Kong rally

Markets mixed after Wall St losses, Shanghai and Hong Kong rally

Hong Kong led gains in Asia but remains well down on the year to date owing to worries about China's stuttering economy
Hong Kong led gains in Asia but remains well down on the year to date owing to worries about China's stuttering economy. Photo: Bertha WANG / AFP
Source: AFP

Asian markets were mixed Tuesday following a drop on Wall Street, though Shanghai and Hong Kong were lifted by a pledge by authorities to boost investment in a range of stocks as they look to staunch a long-running rout.

Investors were still coming to terms with the prospect of US interest rates being kept at two-decade highs following a forecast-busting jobs report last week and a warning from Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell that an imminent cut was unlikely.

While inflation continues to come down, central bank officials have been reticent about pushing for a reduction in borrowing costs, citing a still-robust jobs market and other indicators showing the economy remains in rude health.

Figures Monday added to that, with a gauge of service-sector activity hitting a four-month high.

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That reading "crushed any hopes for a silver rate cut lining in the data to start the week", said SPI Asset Management's Stephen Innes.

"Overall, the... release emphasised the idea that, if anything, the US economy gained momentum last month. At the margins, this suggests a potential resurgence in price pressures.

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"Considering the jobs report alongside this data, it dealt another blow to expectations of rate cuts in March."

All three main indexes on Wall Street finished in the red, with the Dow and S&P 500 having hit record highs on multiple occasions in recent weeks thanks to a rush into tech giants including Amazon and Meta.

Asia also struggled, with Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore and Manila all down.

However, Hong Kong and Shanghai -- among the world's worst-performing markets -- enjoyed much-needed buying interest after a unit that controls company stakes on behalf of China's government said it had expanded the scope of investments.

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The announcement came a day after officials pledged to provide support to avoid wild fluctuations.

However, analysts have warned that while such moves could provide some short-term relief, the government needed to address long-standing problems within the economy -- particularly the property sector -- to restore confidence.

"Right now the market is looking for clearer signals on the economic recovery," said JPMorgan Asset Management's Marcella Chow.

"Expectations remain quite low — markets and investors are still grappling with the weak economic recovery," she told Bloomberg News.

Key figures around 0230 GMT

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.7 percent at 36,114.06 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.9 percent at 15,804.76

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.9 percent at 2,726.07

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 148.53 yen from 148.68 yen on Monday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0743 from $1.0745

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2547 from $1.2536

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.64 pence from 85.68 pence

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Bank of England freezes rate as inflation stays high

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.1 percent at $72.88 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.1 percent at $78.09 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.7 percent at 38,380.12 (close)

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,612.86 (close)

Source: AFP

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