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Asian Markets Mixed as Inflation Fears Weigh

Asian Markets Mixed as Inflation Fears Weigh

Monday, 23 May, 2022 - 05:45
File: Traders looking at stock exchange graphs. AFP/Jung Yeon-je

Asian stocks were mixed Monday as inflation fears and concerns about low economic growth weighed on markets.

Investors will be looking to the release on Wednesday of notes from the latest Federal Reserve committee meeting for clues on further rate hikes by the US central bank.

Wall Street ended the week essentially flat after the S&P 500 had briefly dipped into a bear market, with the index down about 19 percent from its January high, AFP said.

A Chinese interest rate cut did little to cheer Asian markets, with investors concerned about continuing Covid restrictions that are hurting the world's second-largest economy and snarling international supply chains.

Downcast earning reports from retailers have also heightened market uncertainty at a time of rising interest rates, surging energy prices and Russia's ongoing war on Ukraine, which is driving commodity prices higher.

"As macro-economic concerns stemming from aggressive monetary tightening, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and China's stringent Covid lockdowns persist, we anticipate great volatility in the market," Louise Dudley, portfolio manager global equities at Federated Hermes, said in a note, Bloomberg News reported.

In Asian trade Monday, Tokyo climbed 1.3 percent while Hong Kong slipped 1.5 percent and Shanghai was down 0.5 percent.

Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok were higher while Singapore and Manila were down and Sydney was flat following a weekend election that saw the center-left Labor party end a decade of conservative rule.

The new government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is expected to undertake some policy shifts, particularly on climate change, but economists said they were unlikely to upset growth forecasts.

"In our view there was little proposed by the incoming government during the election campaign that at this stage requires us to revisit our economic forecasts," Commonwealth Bank of Australia economists said in a note.

"Put another way, our economic forecasts and call on the (Australian central bank) are unchanged despite the change of national leadership."

Oil was higher, with US crude benchmark WTI up 0.5 percent and Brent gaining 0.7 percent.

The invasion of Ukraine has shaken up the global market and the outlook for key producer Russia, which has been largely shunned by Western countries.

- Key figures at around 0300 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.3 percent at 26,872.01 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.5 percent at 20,416.04

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,131.23

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 127.30 from 127.86 yen on Friday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0592 from $1.0564

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2543 from $1.2497

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.45 from 84.50 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.5 percent at $110.81 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.7 percent at $113.29 per barrel

New York - Dow: FLAT at 31,261.90 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 1.2 percent at 7,389.98 (close)

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