Asian stocks buoyed by Wall St cheer, Australia rallies on soft CPI

Asian stocks buoyed by Wall St cheer, Australia rallies on soft CPI

Most Asian stocks rose on Wednesday, tracking strong cues from Wall Street after weak data pushed up hopes for a less hawkish Federal Reserve, with Australian shares leading gains on a softer-than-expected inflation reading. 

Wall Street indexes closed higher overnight after U.S. job openings and consumer confidence data read weaker than expected, spurring bets that the Fed will have less economic headroom to keep raising interest rates.

But several more U.S. economic indicators are on tap this week, with personal consumption expenditures and nonfarm payrolls data in particular expected to affect the Fed’s outlook.

Technology stocks were the key beneficiaries of easing concerns over the Fed, with tech-heavy bourses including South Korea’s KOSPI and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index up 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively.

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Strength in tech helped Japan’s Nikkei 225 add 1%. 

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index also pointed to a strong open, with heavyweight tech stocks set to track their global peers. 

ASX 200 rallies as soft CPI fuels rate pause bets 

Australia’s ASX 200 was the best performer among its peers on Wednesday, rallying over 1% after data showed that consumer price index (CPI) inflation eased more than expected in July.

The reading showed that aggressive rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Australia over the past year were now bearing fruit, which in turn gives the central bank less impetus to keep raising interest rates. 

But separate data showed that Australian building approvals slid in July, while construction work also grew less than expected in the second quarter, indicating that high interest rates and weak savings were weighing on the country’s real estate market.

Australian economic growth is also expected to cool this year with interest rates at over decade highs.

China lags on property jitters, stimulus cheer runs dry 

Chinese shares lagged their broader Asian peers on Wednesday, with the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes both falling 0.2%. 

Concerns over the country’s ailing property sector grew after Country Garden Holdings (HK:2007) said it will issue about $34 million in new shares to repay some debt obligations.

The firm is also set to report an over $7 billion loss for the first half of 2023 later in the day. 

Chinese indexes had marked a strong start to the week after Beijing unveiled new measures aimed at supporting local equity markets, most notably halving the stamp duties collect on stock trading.


But analysts had warned the measures would only provide a temporary boost to local markets, given that concerns over the country's economic prospects were growing.

Investors were also growing increasingly impatient with Beijing’s reluctance to roll out more targeted, fiscal measures to support the economy, even as government officials kept talking up more stimulus measures.

Focus is now squarely on purchasing managers’ index (PMI) readings from the country, due on Thursday.

The data is expected to show continued weakness in Chinese business activity through August. -

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