Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Asia stocks rise, tracking tech-led gains in US: markets wrap

Asia stocks rise, tracking tech-led gains in US: markets wrap
The European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, on Monday, May 23, 2022.

Asian stocks advanced after a tech rally fuelled gains on Wall Street at the start of a week that brings key inflation data and bank earnings.

Shares climbed in Australia and South Korea, with Japanese equities also higher after a holiday break. Hong Kong stocks opened up, while benchmarks in mainland China fluctuated after a senior Chinese central bank official indicated authorities may cut banks’ official reserves to boost lending in a struggling economy.

Contracts for US stocks were a tad lower after the Nasdaq 100 outperformed on Monday, with Nvidia Corp. surging after announcing new artificial-intelligence products for personal computers. Boeing Co. sank as its 737 Max 9 model was temporarily grounded by authorities. 

Treasuries yields and the dollar were steady in Asia trading, while bitcoin consolidated after a surge past $47,000 on bets that the US is poised to approve the launch of the nation’s first exchange-traded funds investing directly in the world’s largest digital asset.

Apart from the latest tech rally, investor focus also will be on key inflation readings from the US and China later this week. Data released earlier showed consumer price gains in Tokyo slowed for a second month in December, broadly in line with the Bank of Japan’s view that import-driven price pressures are subsiding. 

“The valuation-led year-end rally pulled potential gains from 2024 into 2023, making this a tricky year to prognosticate — especially as data are becoming more mixed and futures markets show that Fed rate cuts are already factored in,” said Robert Teeter, managing director of Silvercrest Asset Management.

Inflation focus

Federal Reserve governor Michelle Bowman said inflation could fall towards the central bank’s 2% target with interest rates held at current levels, and offered potential backing for lowering borrowing costs if price pressures fade.

“Should inflation continue to fall closer to our 2% goal over time, it will eventually become appropriate to begin the process of lowering our policy rate to prevent policy from becoming overly restrictive,” Bowman said in prepared remarks to the South Carolina Bankers Association in Columbia. 

Back in the corporate world, Samsung Electronics shares rose amid the broader tech rally, even as the company posted its sixth straight quarter of declining operating profit. Sony Group Corp. is planning to call off the merger pact of its India unit with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., said people familiar with the matter. Cancelling the deal would cap two years of drama and delay in creating a $10-billion media giant.

Elsewhere, oil held a sizable drop triggered by signs of a weaker physical market, including a deep pricing cut by OPEC+ leader Saudi Arabia.

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