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Business Maverick

Tech drags Asia stocks lower in action-packed week: markets wrap

Tech drags Asia stocks lower in action-packed week: markets wrap
Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, California on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.

Asian equities fell in the wake of big tech declines on Wall Street as traders geared up for a raft of policy decisions this week from the US, UK and Japan. 

Tech shares across the region retreated, with a gauge of the sector’s stocks set to post its biggest decline in almost a month. The drop mirrored losses in Nvidia and Meta Platforms, which both fell more than 3.5% on Friday. 

Distressed Chinese property developer Country Garden remained in focus as it faces more tests on Monday, including a vote to extend payment on a local bond. Shares in Hong Kong fell and China’s CSI 300 Index briefly touched its lowest level this year before erasing losses as traders drew support from data last week which pointed to signs of stabilization.

“Even under such a strong stimulus, we are still seeing the property prices falling,” Hebe Chen, an analyst at IG Markets Ltd., said on Bloomberg Television. “That’s a dangerous sign for me.”

Japan’s markets are shut for a holiday, with the nation’s central bank due to meet later this week. Contracts for US shares edged higher.

Also in focus is Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who is due to address an industry conference on the kingdom’s crude policy and outlook on Monday. Oil advanced for a third day, with Brent pushing toward $95 per barrel as OPEC+ supply cuts tightened the market. 

There was no cash trading of Treasuries in Asian hours on Monday with Japan shut for a holiday. Treasury futures slipped after yields rose on Friday, with the rate-sensitive two-year rate closing above 5%. The greenback weakened against most of its G-10 peers while the Australian dollar and yen traded within narrow ranges. 

Higher for longer

US inflation expectations fell to the lowest in more than two years as consumers grew more optimistic about the economic outlook, data showed Friday. A measure of New York state factory activity unexpectedly expanded amid new orders.

A resilient US economy will prompt the Fed to pencil in one more interest-rate hike this year and stay at the peak level next year for longer than previously expected, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

“The Fed will be sufficiently hawkish so that markets don’t think it is done hiking,” said Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., referring to this week’s US policy decision. Inflation continues to be elevated, the economy is still growing above trend and the labor market remains extremely tight so “simply put, current conditions warrant further tightening, period,” he said.

Meanwhile, piles of derivatives contracts tied to stocks, index options and futures expired Friday — compelling traders to roll over their existing positions or to start new ones. This time, it coincided with the rebalancing of benchmark indexes including the S&P 500, another catalyst for more share transactions. 

Elsewhere, Chevron resumed full production from a liquefied natural gas export facility in Australia that suffered a fault last week, even as union members continued strikes at the site.


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