Asian stocks rise as Powell speech, Chinese data looms

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© Reuters.– Most Asian stocks rose on Wednesday following positive Australian data and strength on Wall Street, although anticipation of more cues on monetary policy and key Chinese economic readings kept investors on their toes.

Wall Street indexes closed stronger on Tuesday as better-than-expected durable goods and new home sales data pointed to some resilience in the U.S. economy. Heavyweight technology stocks also rose sharply.

This optimism spilled over into Asian trade, with Japan’s index up 1.4%, buoyed by gains in financial and industrials. The index, along with the broader , was once again moving back towards 33-year highs, after seeing some profit taking over the past week.

Australia’s index was among the best performers for the day, up 1.1% after data showed that sank to a 13-month low in May, ramping up hopes that the Reserve Bank will pause its rate hike cycle. But core inflation still remained elevated.

The index added 0.2%, while strength in heavyweight technology stocks pushed Hong Kong’s index up 0.2%, despite losses in China-exposed stocks. 

for India’s pointed to a positive open for Indian stocks. 

Chinese stocks lag, PMIs in focus this week

China’s and indexes fell about 0.6% each, resuming a losing streak even as Premier Li Qiang said that the country’s economy will grow at a faster pace in the second quarter.

But his comments were largely undermined by weak economic readings for April and May, which showed that a post-COVID rebound in the country ran out of steam.

Focus this week is now on for June, due on Friday. The data is expected to show a sustained decline in China’s , while growth in the is also expected to have slowed.

Concerns over slowing economic growth have battered Chinese stocks over the past month, with recent interest rate cuts by the People’s Bank providing limited support to local stocks.

Any further gains are now largely contingent on the path of the Chinese economy, which is struggling amid a manufacturing decline and sluggish demand.

Powell speech, rate hike signals awaited

In addition to uncertainty over China, sentiment towards risk-heavy Asian markets was also constrained by anticipation of an at a European Central Bank forum later in the day. 

Powell had largely maintained his hawkish rhetoric during a two-day testimony to Congress last week, and is expected to serve up more cues on the path of U.S. interest rates.

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