Asian Stocks Creep Higher, China Lags On Disappointing Data

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Most Asian stock markets rose on Tuesday, tracking some overnight resilience in U.S. equities as markets awaited more cues on the world’s largest economy, although broader gains were held back by disappointing Chinese economic data. Outperformance in Japan’s Nikkei 225 index persisted, with the index up 0.9% at an 18-month high as a strong first-quarter earnings season and a dovish Bank of Japan made local equities appear extremely attractive. The Nikkei was also among the best-performing Asian bourses over the past month on this notion, as monetary conditions in the rest of the globe remained tight. On the other hand, China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 fell 0.1%, while the Shanghai Composite index was flat as industrial production and retail sales data missed expectations for April. While both readings still advanced at a steady clip from the prior month, their falling behind market expectations further pointed to a staggered recovery in Asia’s largest economy. The disappointing readings come after weaker-than-expected imports, inflation, and business activity data earlier this month, which pointed to a slowing economic recovery despite the lifting of anti-COVID measures earlier this year.

Still, Losses In Chinese Stocks Were Limited As The Weak Data.

spurred bets that the People’s Bank will further loosen policy to shore up growth. Analysts are now positioning for a 25 basis point cut in the bank’s Loan Prime Rate next month, pulling interest rates further into record low territory. Concerns over China also kept gains in broader Asian markets limited, given the country’s role as a dominant trading partner for the region. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.4%, while South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.3%. Gains in the KOSPI were also held back by data showing a continued decline in export prices through April, although prices did fall at a smaller-than-expected pace. Australia’s ASX 200 index fell 0.2%, as export-oriented stocks took negative cues from signs of weakness in China, their biggest market. A private survey also showed that consumer sentiment worsened substantially through early-May, after a surprise interest rate hike by the Reserve Bank. Broader Asian markets took some positive cues from Wall Street, with focus now turning to a slew of U.S. economic indicators due this week. Several Federal Reserve officials are also set to speak, most notably Chair Jerome Powell on Friday. Focus also remained on negotiations over raising the U.S. debt ceiling, as policymakers warned of a potential debt default by June 1.

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