Asian stocks dip as markets await central banks, economic cues

  • Stock Market News
Asian stocks dip as markets await central banks, economic cues
Credit: © Reuters.

By Ambar Warrick -- Most Asian stocks moved in a flat-to-low range on Monday as markets hunkered down before a slew of central bank meetings and economic readings due over the next two weeks, with focus also turning to the U.S. earnings season.

Regional markets logged steep losses last week, as a string of weaker-than-expected earnings from major U.S. firms ramped up fears of slowing business activity amid rising interest rates.

Hawkish signals from the Federal Reserve also weighed, as an increasing number of policymakers called for more rate hikes to curb inflation.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged higher on Monday ahead of more cues on inflation due this week. Data released last week showed that consumer prices remained stubbornly high through March, likely providing continued headwinds to the economy.

But the main point of focus is a Bank of Japan policy meeting on Friday - its first under new Governor Kazuo Ueda. The BOJ is widely expected to maintain its ultra-dovish stance, but could provide cues on plans for tightening later this year, especially as inflation remains sticky.

South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.8% ahead of first quarter GDP data due later today, which is expected to show that growth likely slowed amid continued headwinds from weak exports. The Bank of Korea had recently paused its rate hike cycle due to pronounced economic weakness.

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell 0.6% and 0.4%, respectively, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.6%. Mixed economic readings from China also raised questions over the scope of a recovery this year, as the country’s manufacturing sector continued to struggle.

Australia’s ASX 200 was flat ahead of a reading on inflation this week, as well as a Reserve Bank meeting next week.

Broader Asian markets trended in a flat-to-low range, with caution setting in ahead of key U.S. economic readings this week. First quarter GDP data , due on Thursday, is expected to show that growth slowed further from the prior quarter, while a reading on the PCE price index , which is the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, is also expected to show that inflation remained stubborn in March.

The data comes ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting next week , where the bank is set to hike rates by another 25 basis points. Fears of rising U.S. interest rates have battered Asian markets in recent weeks, given that tighter liquidity conditions in the West usually herald slower capital flows to Asia.

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