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Asia stocks erase gains as China optimism fades: markets wrap

Asia stocks erase gains as China optimism fades: markets wrap
A trader wears ashes for Ash Wednesday as they work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading on 14 February 2024 in New York City. (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Asian shares fell as earlier optimism that was triggered by positive Chinese holiday data dissipated.

A gauge of Asia Pacific shares slipped after rising 0.4% in the early trading as mainland Chinese stocks pared their advances, with the CSI 300 Index dragged down by declines in financials and health care. Chinese shares in Hong Kong also fell. Buoyant travel and tourism data during the Lunar New Year break earlier suggested consumption revved up even as the broader economy struggles with deflation and a property crisis. 

“While the overall trend remains upward, the volatility at open suggests traders need time to digest a flurry of news from the holiday and the trend may become clearer later in the day,” said Shen Meng, director at Chanson & Co in Beijing.

A sub gauge measuring Chinese consumer stocks, however, maintained its gains as traders looked for further policy support across the monetary and fiscal space, in addition to a cut in the reserve requirement ratio already undertaken.

Japan’s Tokyo Stock Price Index was mostly flat, while the Nikkei-225 Stock Average slipped with shares in gaming company Nintendo Co. falling as much as 8.8% after it said it was pushing back the launch of its Switch successor to the beginning of next year. Still, the Nikkei hovered near its record close in 1989. Australian stocks rose, while contracts for US equities also climbed after the S&P 500 dropped 0.5% on Friday. 

There was no cash trading of Treasuries on holiday in the US. They fell on Friday, with two-year yields up seven basis points to 4.65% after the producer price index rose on a sizable jump in costs of services. 

The yen strengthened around 150 per dollar with the greenback weakening against all of its G10 peers. The yuan was little changed after the People’s Bank of China on Sunday held the interest rate on its one-year policy loans at 2.5% while injecting a small amount of cash into the financial system.

Oil fell, but remained near the highest level this year as persistent tensions in the Middle East added a risk premium to the market. Gold held a two-day gain.


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