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Tech drop in China takes Asia stocks off session high: markets wrap

Tech drop in China takes Asia stocks off session high: markets wrap
People walk in front of the large screen showing the latest stock exchange data, in Shanghai, China, 22 August 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE/ALEX PLAVEVSKI)

An Asia stock gauge came off session highs on Tuesday amid a slide in Hong Kong and subdued sentiment due to the Federal Reserve’s signal of a sustained period of restrictive monetary policy to quell inflation.

A retreat in China tech stocks put Hong Kong into the red in a mixed day for the region that included a jump in Japan. US futures fluctuated after Wall Street equities added to a slump that began Friday when Chair Jerome Powell stressed the Fed is willing to let the economy suffer to cool price pressures.

Treasury yields and the dollar were little changed. Both have been pushed higher in the rethink sparked by Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole last week. Oil was near the highest since late July on potential Libyan production outages. Gold and Bitcoin wavered.

In China, the central bank set a stronger-than-expected yuan fixing for a fifth day, a sign it doesn’t want an excessively weak currency. The move highlights how greenback strength is a challenge for Asia as the region’s currencies slip.

There’s “more pain ahead” for the yuan and a fall to 7 per US dollar looks likely, Divya Devesh, a foreign exchange strategist at Standard Chartered Plc, said on Bloomberg Television.

Powell’s push back against market hopes for a pivot to interest-rate cuts next year is the latest setback in a challenging year for investors. The Fed this week is also set to step up the unwinding of its near-$9 trillion balance sheet. Other risks range from China’s economic slowdown to Europe’s energy crisis as Russia continues its war in Ukraine and chokes gas supplies.

Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari said sharp stock-market losses show investors have got the message that the US central bank is determined to contain inflation. “People now understand the seriousness of our commitment to getting inflation back down to 2%,” he said.

In Europe, natural gas and power prices plunged after Germany said its stores of fossil fuel are filling up faster than planned. But Germany remains vulnerable in the winter if Russia halts gas flows. The European Union is preparing to step into its energy market to damp soaring power costs. BM

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