Asian Shares Rise Despite Powell’s Hawkish Remarks

Asian stocks ended broadly higher on Tuesday despite concerns over rising geopolitical tensions and hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.2 percent to 3,259.86 after the country’s cabinet pledged measures to boost market confidence, shore up economic stability and keep capital market development stable and healthy.

China Eastern Airlines shares plunged 6.2 percent after a Boeing 737-800 of the company with 132 people on board crashed into a hillside in southern China.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped 3.2 percent to close at 21,889.28 as Alibaba unveiled its record share repurchase plan. Shares of the e-commerce giant surged 10.4 percent.

Investors shrugged off data showing that Hong Kong’s consumer price inflation rose 1.6 percent year-on-year in February following a 1.2 percent increase in January.

Japanese shares ended sharply higher as markets reopened after a holiday. The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 1.5 percent to finish at 27,224.11, extending gains for a sixth straight session amid optimism that a weakening yen could bolster exporters’ outlook.

Oil explorers, banks and financials topped the gainers list, while soy sauce maker Kikkoman tumbled 6.7 percent. The U. S. dollar surged to six-year highs against the yen, hitting 120 yen-levels.

Seoul stocks ended notably higher on institutional buying. The Kospi climbed 0.9 percent to close at 2,710. Tech, auto and heavy industry stocks led the advance. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. shares soared 5.4 percent.

Australian markets hit a two-month high as higher commodity prices amid fears of energy sanctions on Russia helped lift miners and energy stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9 percent to settle at 7,341.10, its highest close since January 20.

Coal miner New Hope Corp jumped 8.5 percent after posting strong half-year results due to the surge in thermal coal prices.

Boral tumbled 3.5 percent after the building materials maker said its earnings have been knocked down by lower sales volumes, hit by recent rainfall in New South Wales and Queensland.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ended 0.2 percent higher at 12,204.69 after a sell-off in bond markets lifted yields to multi-month highs. Warehouse Group rallied 4.4 percent and Eroad surged 6.1 percent.

U.S. stocks fell overnight after Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled openness to raising interest rates aggressively this year to tame inflation, leading to speculation of a potential 50 basis point rate hike at any of the upcoming meetings.

The Dow shed 0.6 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.4 percent, while the S&P 500 edged down marginally.

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