Investing.com -- Most Asian stocks rose sharply on Thursday, tracking an overnight rally on Wall Street as softer-than-expected U.S. inflation data fueled bets on a less hawkish Federal Reserve this year.
Gains were heavily biased towards the technology sector, given that it was the most pressured by a spike in borrowing costs over the past year. The prospect of a less aggressive Fed also improves the outlook for future earnings from tech stocks.
Signs of easing Chinese regulatory pressure on the country’s technology giants also aided sentiment, as did speculation over more stimulus measures from Beijing.
Hong Kong stocks lead gains on tech rally, stimulus hopes
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was the best performer for the day, up 2.4% as heavyweight technology stocks extended their rally after the U.S. inflation reading.
Majors such as Baidu Inc (HK: 9888 ) (NASDAQ: BIDU ), Alibaba Group (HK: 9988 ) (NYSE: BABA ), and Tencent Holdings Ltd (HK: 0700 ) - the BAT (LON: BATS ) trio, as well as others including JD.com (HK: 9618 ) (NASDAQ: JD ) and Bilibili Inc (HK: 9626 ) (NASDAQ: BILI ) surged between 2.7% and 7.5%, rising for a fourth straight session.
The stocks were buoyed by bets that China was winding down its regulatory crusade against the country’s biggest internet firms, after Beijing imposed heavy fines on Alibaba’s Ant Group and Tencent. Government officials signaled that the fines marked a clearer regulatory path forward for local tech firms, and also opened up the prospect of renewed dialogue with the sector.
Gains in Chinese tech spilled over into other countries, with South Korea’s KOSPI up 1%, while the Taiwan Weighted index added 1.4%. The KOSPI was also boosted by the Bank of Korea keeping interest rates steady for a fourth straight month.
China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes rose 1.1% and 0.8%, respectively, as state-run media outlets reported that the government was considering more stimulus measures in the coming months. The reports come after a string of weaker-than-expected economic readings drove up concerns over a slowing recovery in Asia’s largest economy.
Australia’s ASX 200 added 1.5%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.2%, snapping seven sessions of weakness. Singapore-traded futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a flat open, after the Nifty and the BSE Sensex 30 fell from record highs on Wednesday.
U.S. CPI eases, Fed rate hikes in focus
This furthered expectations that the Fed will still hike rates in the near-term, with the bank widely expected tolater in July.
Fed officials also warned this week that sticky core inflation will necessitate more monetary tightening.
But with recent data also pointing towards cooling in the labor market, investors speculated over just how many more rate hikes would be required from the Fed. Any signals on a less hawkish Fed are likely to trigger further gains in stock markets.
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