Asian stocks sink as Fed minutes fuel rate hike bets

  • Stock Market News
Asian stocks sink as Fed minutes fuel rate hike bets
Credit: © Reuters. -- Most Asian stocks fell on Thursday, tracking a decline in U.S. markets as the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s June meeting presented a hawkish outlook, while weak economic signals and fears of a Sino-U.S. trade war also weighed.

Wall Street indexes closed lower overnight as the minutes of the Fed’s June meeting showed that nearly all of its members supported more rate hikes in the coming months.

Technology-heavy indexes were pressured by hawkish signals from the Fed, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down 2.5%, while South Korea’s KOSPI and the Taiwan Weighted index shed 0.3% and 1.2%, respectively.

Japanese stocks were among the biggest decliners for the day, with the Nikkei 225 down 1.3%, while the TOPIX fell 0.8%. Traders used the negative sentiment to further lock in profits in local stocks, after the Nikkei and TOPIX surged to 33-year highs in June.

Australia’s ASX 200 sank 1.2%, hit by concerns over slowing economic growth in major export destination China. Australian trade data released on Thursday furthered this notion, showing a slowdown in the country’s top metal exports to China.

But Australia’s trade surplus still recovered from nine-month lows.

Singapore-traded futures for India's Nifty 50 index pointed to a weaker open, after the Nifty surged to record highs this week, vastly outpacing its Asian peers.

Chinese stock losses limited amid trade war uncertainty, stimulus hopes

Losses in China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes were relatively lesser than their Asian peers, with the two down about 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively.

A swathe of weak economic readings from the country over the past week saw traders ramping up their hopes for more stimulus measures from Beijing, as the government struggles to shore up a slowing economic recovery.

In addition to slowing economic growth, Chinese investors were also contending with the threat of a worsening trade conflict with Washington. China imposed curbs on the export of key chipmaking materials to the U.S. this week, raising concerns over retaliatory measures and more disruptions to global trade.

But Chinese exporters of the chipmaking materials, along with rare earth miners, saw a share price rally this week.

Rate hike fears increase, nonfarm payrolls awaited

The Fed minutes saw markets increase their expectations for a rate hike in July, with Fed Fund futures prices showing a 90.5% chance the central bank will hike by 25 basis points at a late-July meeting.

Rising interest rates bode poorly for Asian stocks, given that they limit liquidity conditions and also weigh on foreign capital flows into the region.

Focus is now on nonfarm payrolls data for June, due on Friday, for more cues on how the Fed may act in the coming months. The central bank is targeting cooling in both inflation and the labor market with its rate hikes.

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