Asian markets mixed on China data, dovish Fed comments
HONG KONG – Asian markets were mixed on Thursday after China released a raft of key data indicating solid but slowing growth while the Federal Reserve chief said the US central bank would maintain its stimulus until the recovery was well under way.
China’s growth slowed to 7.9 percent in the second quarter, down from 18.3 percent in the previous three months when the economy roared back to life after last year’s pandemic-enforced shutdown.
The National Bureau of Statistics said the world’s second-largest economy continued to “recover steadily”, but sounded a note of caution over external uncertainties and the uneven domestic economic rebound.
“Efforts are still needed to consolidate the foundation for stable recovery and development,” it added.
In June, industrial output rose 8.3 percent and retail sales grew 12.1 percent, both edging down from the month before.
“The overall growth perspective is still pretty resilient in terms of industrial production and retail sales,” Helen Qiao, chief Greater China economist at Bank of America Securities, told Bloomberg Television.
Investors were also digesting dovish comments by Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who acknowledged inflation was stronger than the US central bank would like but said the economy still had “a long way to go”.
The Fed “will ensure that monetary policy will continue to deliver powerful support to the economy until the recovery is complete,” Powell said Wednesday in his semi-annual testimony to Congress.
The Dow and S&P 500 posted slight gains following Powell’s comments but the Nasdaq finished lower.
It was a mixed picture in Asian markets. Hong Kong was up 1.3 percent, with Shanghai, Seoul and Taipei also posting gains while Tokyo gave up 0.9 percent and Singapore and Sydney also retreated.
“Powell’s semi-annual testimony did not deliver any bombshell pivots that the Fed is concerned about overheating the economy or that pricing pressures may remain elevated a lot longer than initially expected,” OANDA analyst Edward Moya said.
“The dovish stance of the Fed was confirmed since Powell believes the economy is clearly nowhere near to seeing substantial further progress to begin scaling back asset purchases.”
Oil prices fell in Asian trade, with both main contracts down about one percent after data showed a rise in US stockpiles.
Key figures around 0300 GMT
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.9 percent at 28,343.83
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 1.3 percent at 28,153.16
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,538.55
New York – DOW: UP 0.1 percent at 34,933.23 (close)
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,091.19 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1825 from $1.1841 at 2100 GMT Wednesday
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3824 from $1.3863
Euro/pound: UP at 85.54 from 85.39 pence
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.88 from 109.95 yen
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.95 percent at $74.05 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.98 percent at $72.41 per barrel
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