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Asian stocks muted between Fed risks, China recovery



© Reuters

By Ambar Warrick — Most Asian stock markets kept to a tight range on Tuesday as traders awaited more cues on U.S. monetary policy from a slew of Federal Reserve indicators this week, while focus also remained on a Chinese economic recovery.

Hong Kong’s index was the worst performer for the day, falling 1.6% on losses in heavyweight technology stocks. Chinese search engine (HK:) slumped nearly 7% and was the worst performer on the index after media reports said the firm was planning a subsidy campaign.

Hong Kong shares (HK:) of HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:) fell 0.6% as the bank logged a $1.4 billion drop in its annual profit. But the bank also posted a nearly 100% jump in its , and also said it was considering a special dividend.

China’s and indexes were muted, as optimism over more government spending measures ran out of steam. The People’s Bank of China had on Monday held its key mortgage at historical lows, as it strives to shore up local economic growth.

Hopes of a Chinese economic recovery have been at the heart of a rally in Asian stocks this year, after the country relaxed most anti-COVID measures in January. A recovery in China bodes well for the country’s regional trading partners.

Still, recent economic indicators from the country paint a somewhat mixed picture of recovery.

Broader Asian markets moved little, with focus turning to the of the Federal Reserve’s February meeting, due on Wednesday. The minutes are largely expected to reiterate the central bank’s hawkish rhetoric, which indicates more hikes as the bank moves to contain inflation.

Markets are also awaiting a reading on the – the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, and a slew of speeches from Fed officials.

Rising U.S. interest rates bode poorly for Asian stocks, given that they limit the amount of foreign capital flowing into the region, and also push up regional lending rates.

Australia’s index fell 0.2%, dragged lower by losses in major miner BHP Group Ltd (ASX:) after it logged a .

India’s and indexes rose 0.3% and 0.4%, respectively, while Japan’s index fell 0.2%.

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