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Business Maverick

China tech pulls Asian stocks lower; dollar steady: markets wrap

China tech pulls Asian stocks lower; dollar steady: markets wrap
A worker walks on a pedestrian bridge in front of the Technology Park where the Micron headquarters building is located, in Shanghai, China, 23 May 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE/ALEX PLAVEVSKI)

Declines for Chinese technology companies weighed on Asian equities while US futures edged higher and the dollar clung to a rally on Thursday.

Mainland China and Hong Kong equity indexes fell, with the Hang Seng technology index declining around 2%. All but one of the index’s 30 members fell with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd the only company to advance after beating revenue estimates in its latest quarterly results.

Australian shares fell while South Korean stocks pared an early advance to alternate between gains and losses. US equity futures were moderately higher after the S&P 500 eroded an early advance to close flat on Thursday, while the Nasdaq 100 added 0.2%. A gauge of Asian stocks is set to fall for the fourth time this week.

Country Garden Holdings Co., formerly China’s largest developer by sales, saw its stock fall below HK$1 as it expects to report a multibillion-dollar loss for the first half of this year. The company’s drop this week has placed an index of Chinese property developers on track for its worst week since October.

Traders will be keeping a wary eye on the yen and the key 145 level versus the dollar, with a holiday in Tokyo potentially contributing to volatility as volume thins. The persistently wide yield gap between Japan and the US is keeping the yen weak and within sight of levels that triggered intervention by the finance ministry last year.

US inflation data released on Thursday was broadly in line with expectations. The core measure that excludes food and energy registered the smallest back-to-back increase in more than two years, offering support to risk assets. Despite this, Francisco president Mary Daly told Yahoo! Finance the central bank still has “more work to do” to combat rising prices.

Daly’s comments weighed on Treasuries, further souring sentiment after longer-term US yields rose following a weak 30-year bond auction. The $23-billion auction was awarded the highest rate since 2011.

“The case is building for the Fed to keep policy rates unchanged in September,” said Seema Shah, chief global strategist at Principal Asset Management. “While inflation is moving in the right direction, the still-elevated level suggests that the Fed is some distance from cutting rates.”

In currencies, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was flat after rising on Thursday. The greenback is set to extend its weekly gains to four, the longest such streak since February. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar’s continued depreciation is starting to increase fears of inflation. 

Two-year yields, which are more sensitive to imminent Fed moves, reversed an earlier slide. Yields on Australian and New Zealand bonds rose in Asia trading. Trading of cash Treasuries in Asia and Japanese equities will be closed Friday for a national holiday in Japan.

In commodities, oil’s seven-week rally – driven by increasing signs of a tightening market – paused as technical barriers stalled further advances. European natural gas declined following its biggest jump in 17 months, as concerns about potential strikes at major export facilities in Australia affect prices. DM


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