Asian stocks rise as bank fears ebb, China lags on growth doubts

11 — Most Asian stock markets rose on Tuesday as sentiment improved amid easing fears of a looming banking crisis, although Chinese stocks lagged their peers as a string of weak earnings brewed doubts over a swift economic recovery this year.

Australia’s ASX 200 was the best performer for the day, rising 0.9% as data showed that the country’s retail sales grew slightly more than expected in February, indicating some economic resilience as it grapples with high inflation and interest rates.

South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.7%, while Thailand stocks led gains across Southeast Asia with a 0.7% bounce.

But losses in China limited the positive sentiment, as the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes traded largely sideways, after falling on Monday.

A string of weaker-than-expected earnings from China’s biggest companies, including China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (SS:600028) and aluminum firm China Hongqiao Group Ltd (HK:1378), drummed up concerns that bets on a quick economic recovery in the country may have been overstretched.

Local media reports also suggested that the country’s once booming export sector was now running well below capacity, despite the lifting of anti-COVID measures earlier this year. China is struggling with weak domestic and overseas demand, due to deteriorating economic conditions across the globe.

Focus is now squarely on Chinese business activity data for March, which is set to offer more cues on an economic recovery in the country. But analyst estimates see growth cooling from the prior month.

Still, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 0.8% on Tuesday, aided largely by technology stocks and as the Chinese government promised to further open up local capital markets to overseas investors.

Broader Asian markets trended higher, tracking mild overnight gains on Wall Street as the government-brokered takeover of Silicon Valley Bank by peer First Citizens BancShares (NASDAQ:FCNCA) helped ease fears over an imminent banking collapse.

Regulators also reassured investors that the banking sector was stable, and that they stood ready to address any liquidity shortfalls.

This helped reverse some negative sentiment that had crept into markets over the past few weeks, which had battered Asian stocks through March.

But factors also limited any major recovery. India’s Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex 30 indexes traded in a flat-to-low range on Tuesday as local investors digested a hike in transaction taxes on futures and options trade. The move is expected to severely dent stock trading activity in the country.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was flat following signs that underlying inflation still remained high in the country, which could attract monetary tightening by the Bank of Japan.


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