China stocks lead gains in Asia following release of better-than-expected Chinese economic data

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday morning trade following overnight losses on Wall Street as the S&P 500 fell deeper into bear market territory.

Investors in the region also watched for market reaction to Chinese economic data, including industrial production and retail sales for May.

Mainland Chinese stocks were higher in Wednesday morning trade: The Shanghai Composite climbed about 0.6% while the Shenzhen Component advanced 0.515%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.93% as shares of Alibaba jumped 4.74%.

Bets are also mounting that July FOMC will deliver another 75bp hike … It appears 75 is the new 50.
Vishnu Varathan
head of economics and strategy, Mizuho Bank

China’s industrial output climbed 0.7% in May as compared with a year earlier, official data showed Wednesday, rising from the April’s 2.9% decline. The reading for May came in above expectations by analysts in a Reuters poll for a 0.7% drop.

Meanwhile, retail sales in May fell 6.7% year-on-year, better than the expected 7.1% fall predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, the Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.6% while the Topix index dipped 0.56%. South Korea’s Kospi fell 1%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.18%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.26% higher.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell deeper into bear market territory, declining 0.38% to 3,735.48. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 151.91 points, or 0.5%, to 30,364.83. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite outperformed, rising 0.18% to around 10,828.35.

The moves stateside came as U.S. Treasury yields rose again as investors anticipate more aggressive tightening policies from the Federal Reserve, which is set to announce its latest interest rate decision later Wednesday stateside.

Markets are “convinced” that the Fed will hike rates by 75 basis points at the June FOMC meeting, Mizuho Bank’s Vishnu Varathan said in a note.

The market is betting on a more than 95% chance of a 75-basis-point rate hike, the biggest increase since 1994, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool. 1 basis point equals 0.01%.

“Bets are also mounting that July FOMC will deliver another 75bp hike,” said Vishnu, head of economics and strategy at the firm. “It appears 75 is the new 50.”

Wharton professor Jeremy Siegel told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” that the market would be disappointed if the Fed only hiked rates by 50 basis points, deeming the central bank as being unaggressive in reining in inflation.

“The Fed needs to grab the narrative of inflation .. they know it is way too late. We got to go forceful right now,” said the finance professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield last stood at 3.429% — down from 3.48%, an 11-year high it reached on Tuesday. The 2-year rate was at 3.37%. Yields move inversely to prices. The 2-year and 10-year Treasury yield curve briefly inverted earlier this week as investors position for potentially aggressive monetary policy tightening to tame inflation.

The yield curve inversion is closely monitored by traders and is often viewed as an indicator of potential recession ahead.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 105.207 after a recent bounce from levels below 105.

The Japanese yen traded at 135.18 per dollar, weaker as compared with levels below 135 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6909, struggling to recover after last week’s fall from levels above $0.72.

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.23% to $121.45 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.23% to $119.20 per barrel.

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