Asian stocks edge up as markets digest oil rally, China tech surges

Asian stocks edge up as markets digest oil rally, China tech surges
© Reuters

By Ambar Warrick — Most Asian stocks crept higher on Monday as risk appetite persisted on softer-than-expected U.S. inflation readings from the prior week, although a spike in oil prices saw markets remain wary of a potential resurgence in inflation over the coming months.

China’s and indexes rose 0.9% and 0.6%, respectively, buoyed largely by shares of major electronics manufacturers after Beijing opened an investigation into local sales of U.S. memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc (NASDAQ:).

While China’s investigation points to worsening trade ties between Beijing and Washington, any disruptions in Micron’s Chinese sales open up the market for local players. Shares of major Chinese chipmakers Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (HK:) and SG Micro Corp (SZ:) rose more than 2% each on Monday.

Markets appeared to have largely looked past a private survey that showed growth in slowed in March from the prior month. A post-COVID economic rebound appears to be running out of steam, with China’s manufacturing sector facing increased headwinds from slow demand.

Hong Kong’s index fell 0.6%, with local technology stocks, most of which also sport U.S. listings, down the most.

Broader Asian markets advanced as softer-than-expected U.S. from last week pushed up hopes that inflation was easing, necessitating less hawkish measures by the Federal Reserve.

Japan’s index rose 0.5%, while India’s and indexes added 0.2% each.

But a spike in oil prices on Monday, following a surprise output cut by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+), brewed some concerns over a potential resurgence in inflation, especially if fuel prices remain high.

This could also attract more monetary tightening measures by major central banks, particularly the Fed.

This notion kept gains in Asian markets limited on Monday. Focus this week is also on a slew of central bank meetings and economic readings. and are set to decide on interest rates this week, while U.S. data is expected to offer more cues on the path of U.S. monetary policy.

Australia’s rose 0.6%, amid some bets that the Reserve Bank will pause its rate hike cycle by as soon as Tuesday, following two straight months of easing inflation. But some traders still expect the bank to hike by at least 25 basis points more.

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