Asian stocks muted as M.East tensions offset China GDP cheer

  • Stock Market News
Asian stocks muted as M.East tensions offset China GDP cheer Most Asian stocks moved in a tight range on Wednesday as growing concerns over a spillover in the Israel-Hamas war dented risk appetite, largely offsetting positive data that showed China’s economy grew more than expected. 

The bombing of a Gaza hospital, which reportedly killed hundreds of Palestinians, marked a potential escalation in the conflict, especially as Egyptian and Palestinian leaders called off a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden following the attack. 

The move ratcheted up concerns that the Israel-Hamas conflict could spill over into the Middle East region. Concerns over such a scenario were the main weight on Asian stocks over the past two weeks. 

Fears of an escalation in the Middle East also largely offset data showing China’s economy grew more than expected in the third quarter.

China GDP beats, but stocks see little cheer 

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell 0.5% each, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index traded in a tight range.

Government data showed that China’s gross domestic product grew 4.9% in the three months to September 30, more than expectations for growth of 4.4%. But the figure was weaker than the 6.3% growth seen in the prior quarter.

Still, quarter-on-quarter GDP growth accelerated more than expected, indicating that a slew of monetary stimulus measures by the government were bearing some fruit. 

But sentiment towards China remained weak, especially amid growing concerns over a massive debt default by beleaguered property developer Country Garden Holdings (HK: 2007 ). 

Chinese technology stocks were also battered by the U.S. announcing more curbs on key artificial intelligence chip exports to China. 

Chinese stocks are among the worst performers in Asia this year, after a post-COVID economic rebound largely failed to materialize as expected. Concerns over a property market meltdown have also kept investors wary of the country. 

Broader Asian stocks muted, Fed cues awaited 

Broader Asian markets kept to a tight range on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index shed 0.1%, while South Korea’s KOSPI and Australia’s ASX 200 strengthened slightly. 

Mining giant BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP )p rose 0.7% and was among the top boosts to the ASX 200, after it said that it had found a buyer in Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC ) for some of its coal mining assets. The news helped traders look past a 4% decline in quarterly iron ore production. 

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a slightly weak open, with heavyweight technology stocks also coming under pressure from an overnight spike in Treasury yields.

Stronger-than-expected U.S. retail sales data pushed up concerns over sticky inflation and higher interest rates. The data also came just ahead of an address by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday, anticipation of which also kept regional markets on edge.

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