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Asia report: Markets follow Wall Street stocks into the red

Wed 03 April 2024 10:15 | A A A

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(Sharecast News) - Asia-Pacific stocks closed in negative territory across the board on Wednesday, mirroring the overnight losses observed on Wall Street.

The dip in market sentiment came despite fresh data indicating an expansion in China's service sector activity, marking its quickest growth since December.

"Asian stock markets are experiencing widespread losses, influenced by the negative trends in global markets," said TickMill market analyst Patrick Munnelly.

"This was triggered by the rise in US Treasury yields due to strong economic data, raising worries about the future of interest rates.

"The latest data from the US revealed higher-than-expected growth in job openings, manufacturing, and factory orders in February."

Munnelly said equity markets globally were "feeling the heat" as investors reassessed global interest rate expectations ahead of Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell's upcoming appearance and Friday's US labour data.

"Presently, markets are factoring in just under 70 basis points of US rate cuts for the year, slightly below the Fed's projection of 75 basis points of reductions as per the 'dot plot'.

"Despite Fed officials Mester and Daly reaffirming that three rate cuts - 75 basis points 0 remain the baseline, they highlighted that robust economic activity reduces the urgency for immediate easing."

Stocks fall across the Asia-Pacific

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index fell by 0.97% to 39,451.85, while the broader Topix index declined by 0.29% to 2,706.51.

Notable losers on Japan's benchmark index included Shimizu, which plummeted by 8.96%, Nintendo by 4.19%, and Ebara by 3.56%.

Chinese markets also experienced declines, with the Shanghai Composite slipping by 0.18% to 3,069.30, and the Shenzhen Component dropping by 0.44% to 9,544.77.

Among the biggest losers in Shanghai were Anhui Zhongyuan New Materials, down by 10.04%, and Hunan Huasheng, down by 9.87%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined by 1.22% to 16,725.10, with Citic Pacific seeing a notable decrease of 6.68%, Li Auto by 5.01%, and JD Health International by 4.86%.

In South Korea, the Kospi index registered a decline of 1.68% to 2,706.97, with noteworthy fallers including POSCO Future M, down by 5.57%, and Samsung SDI, down by 5.52%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index also faced a downturn, dropping by 1.34% to 7,782.50, with Sigma Healthcare experiencing a significant decline of 6.49%, and Stanmore Resources by 5.83%.

Similarly, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 index declined by 0.46% to 12,040.49, as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare declined 2.94%, and Mercury NZ fell by 2.89%.

In currency markets, the dollar was last 0.11% stronger on the yen, trading at JPY 151.73.

The greenback also advanced against the Aussie, rising 0.18% to AUD 1.5369, while it managed gains of 0.14% on the Kiwi to change hands at NZD 1.6771.

Oil prices saw marginal gains, with Brent crude futures last up 0.29% on ICE at $89.18 per barrel, and the NYMEX quote for West Texas Intermediate rising 0.2% to $85.32.

China services sector expands at fastest pace since December

In economic news, fresh survey data from Caixin showed that China's service sector experienced significant growth in March, reaching its highest level since December.

The services purchasing managers index (PMI) climbed to 52.7, up from 52.5 in February, marking the 15th consecutive month of expansion for the sector.

Caixin highlighted the surge in new business within the sector, attributing it to improvements in underlying demand conditions and proactive business development efforts.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that the factors played a pivotal role in driving the increase in new work.

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.

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