Asian stocks steady before CPI data; Japanese shares slide on BOJ jitters

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Asian stocks steady before CPI data; Japanese shares slide on BOJ jitters
Credit: © Reuters.

Investing.com-- Most Asian stocks kept to a tight range on Tuesday as markets remained cautious before key U.S. inflation data, while Japanese stocks saw extended losses amid more signs that the Bank of Japan will raise interest rates soon.

Regional stocks also largely tracked a middling overnight session on Wall Street, as a recent risk-on rally appeared to be running out of steam, while uncertainty over the path of interest rates also factored into market caution.

Japan’s Nikkei 225, TOPIX tumble as BOJ hike appears imminent 

Japanese stocks were the worst performers in Asia on Tuesday, with the Nikkei 225 and TOPIX indexes falling 1.3% and 1.6%, respectively. Both indexes hit over two-week lows, and were now trading well below record highs hit last week.

Mildly stronger-than-expected producer price index inflation, released on Tuesday, fueled increasing bets that sticky inflation and strength in wages will see the BOJ end its yield curve control and negative interest rates policy in the near-term. 

The reading came just a day after several media reports suggested that the BOJ was considering a mid-March or late-April exit from its ultra-dovish policy.

Focus this week is also on wage negotiations between Japanese companies and major labor unions, with any large increases in wages likely to elicit a hawkish response from the BOJ.

Uncertainty over the BOJ kept sentiment towards Asian markets muted, as did persistent doubts over a Chinese economic recovery.

Chinese stocks hover near 4-mth highs, more stimulus cues awaited 

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell slightly on Tuesday, but remained within sight of near four-month highs hit on Monday. 

But gains in Chinese markets had slowed in recent sessions, amid persistent doubts over an economic recovery in the country. Beijing had set a largely underwhelming growth target for 2024, and also offered up scant cues on more stimulus measures.

Gains in technology stocks helped Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advance 0.6%, although it remained largely rangebound. 

US CPI awaited for rate cut cues 

Broader Asian markets stuck to a tight range on Tuesday, with Australia’s ASX 200 rising 0.2%, while South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.2%. 

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a positive open, after it tumbled 0.7% on Monday amid heavy profit-taking at record highs.

Investors were largely on edge before key U.S. consumer price index data, due later on Tuesday, which is expected to factor into the Federal Reserve’s plans for interest rate cuts in 2024. 

US stock futures were mildly positive in Asian trade after a middling session on Wall Street

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