Asian Stocks Steady as Oil Worries Offset Easing Covid Curbs


Asian stocks had an unspectacular day on Tuesday as oil price concerns and Wall Street worries capped gains across the region though Chinese equities enjoyed a small lockdown-exiting bump.

Stocks were mixed as overnight jitters on Wall Street offset confidence from the improving Covid-19 situation in China and the potential easing of regulatory constraints on Chinese tech companies.

Meanwhile, elevated oil prices are also putting pressure on Asian markets, many of which are net importers of the commodity. An anticipated recovery in Chinese demand and doubts over OPEC+ producers’ decision to increase output have continued to push oil prices higher.


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Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 0.10%, or 28.06 points to end at 27,943.95. The broader Topix index rose 0.41%, or 7.92 points, to 1,947.03.

The Hang Seng Index dropped 0.56%, though, or 122.23 points, to 21,531.67 as Monday’s tech rally petered out.

Hong Kong’s tech index was almost steady following a 4.6% surge in the previous session, though e-commerce giant Alibaba Group gained nearly 2%.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.17%, or 5.39 points, to 3,241.76 and the blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.3% to 4,179.13. The CSI300 index has risen more than 10% since hitting a trough on April 26.

That came after the latest signal that China’s promises to ease pressure on its internet sector may be gaining traction. Regulators are concluding probes into ride-hailing giant Didi Global and two other firms, and are preparing to allow their apps back on domestic app stores as early as this week, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Indian stocks slipped with Mumbai’s signature Nifty 50 index down 0.99%, or 163.40 points, to close at 16,406.15.

South Korean stocks fell 1.5% to their worst day since May 24, while Malaysian equities skidded as much as 0.6% to hit their lowest since February 7.


Australia’s Surprise Rate Hike

Globally, world shares fell and bond yields remained supported as a surprise 50-basis-point rate increase in Australia raised concern over policy tightening ahead of US inflation data and a European Central Bank meeting this week.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) raised rates by the most in 22 years and flagged more tightening to come as it battles to restrain surging inflation, driving a brief spike in the Aussie dollar and hitting local shares.

The MSCI’s benchmark for global stocks fell 0.3% to 650 points by 0843 GMT, weighed down by morning losses in Europe and earlier weakness across Asian markets.

The pan-European STOXX 600 equity benchmark index fell 0.4%, while S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 0.4%.

In foreign exchange markets, angst ahead of the US inflation data kept the dollar in demand. The greenback rose to its the highest since 2002 against the yen after Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda stayed dovish, promising support for the economy and easy monetary policy even as prices start to rise.

Oil prices edged higher on an expected demand recovery in China as the world’s second-biggest economy relaxes tough Covid curbs, and on doubts that a higher output target by OPEC+ producers would ease tight supply.


Key figures

Tokyo – Nikkei 225 > UP 0.10% at 27,943.95 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index

Shanghai – Composite > UP 0.17% at 3,241.76 (close)

New York – Dow > UP 0.05% at 32,915.78 (Monday close)


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara



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Sean O’Meara

Sean O’Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.