Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Asian stocks rise fuelled by Chinese policy support: markets wrap

Asian stocks rise fuelled by Chinese policy support: markets wrap
An electronic stock board displayed inside the Kabuto One building in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, 22 February 2024. (Photo: Soichiro Koriyama/Bloomberg)

Asian stocks rose after China took steps to shore up its property market and US equities climbed to a fresh record on Friday thanks to resilient corporate earnings. 

The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Index advanced for a seventh session, with gauges in China, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan all marching higher. Chinese banks left their benchmark lending rates unchanged as economists forecast.

The world’s second-biggest economy is shaping trading on Monday following Beijing’s attempt to bolster the nation’s property market that’s hampering its growth momentum, even as concerns linger that the measures may be too small. Metals including gold rose, with copper surging to a fresh record in anticipation of supply shortages.

“We believe the policy package is just the beginning of the central government’s efforts to turn the sector around,” Nomura Holdings Inc. analysts wrote in a research note. “We believe the swift introduction of the policy package with arguably limited implementation details also implies the central government’s increasing urgency to alleviate the downward spiral of the property sector.” 

Investors are also keeping an eye on the Middle East after a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed in dense fog. Oil fell in early Asian trading. 

Bloomberg’s dollar index was little changed, after dropping last week, as traders finessed bets on the Federal Reserve outlook after inflation in April eased more than economists expected. A chorus of Fed officials are due to speak this week, including governor Christopher Waller who is set to talk specifically about the US economy and monetary policy.

“We continue to expect the Fed to cut rates by 50 basis points this year, with more reductions in 2025 and 2026,” said Solita Marcelli, chief investment officer Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management. “This creates a benign macro environment that is supportive of our investment recommendation for quality bonds and quality stocks.”

Developments in the Middle East have the potential to shape trading. Rescue teams in Iran searched into the night to try to locate Raisi, seen as a favourite to eventually succeed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the Islamic Republic’s top authority. 

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz will receive treatment for a lung condition, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency. King Salman has led the world’s largest oil exporter since 2015. His son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman handles most day-to-day affairs in Saudi Arabia.

The week’s agenda includes economic activity readings in Europe as well as inflation prints in the UK, Canada and Japan. Policy decisions in New Zealand, Indonesia, South Korea and Chile are also due, while Nvidia Corp. is set to report earnings.

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