Asian shares rise ahead of Fed minutes, China COVID woes cap gains

By Ambar Warrick– Most Asian shares rose on Wednesday, tracking an overnight recovery in Wall Street as markets awaited more cues on U.S. monetary policy, although rising COVID-19 cases in China kept gains limited as traders feared more disruptions.

Trading volumes were somewhat limited in the region with Japanese markets closed for a holiday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was the best performer in Asia, rising 1% after tumbling over the past five sessions. Gains in Chinese stocks were somewhat muted, with the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and the Shanghai Composite indexes rising 0.1% and 0.3%, respectively.

China introduced new restrictions in several major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, as the country grapples with a record-high rise in daily infections. This, coupled with weak economic data for October, indicated that growth in the second-largest economy is likely to slow in the coming months.

A resurgence in COVID-19 cases largely offset recent optimism that Beijing will scale back its strict zero-COVID policy due to growing public discontent.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong shares of BYD Co Ltd (HK:1211), the world’s largest electric car maker, fell 1.5% after Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE:BRKa) further trimmed its stake in the firm.

Broader Asian markets took some support from a slew of Federal Reserve officials making the case for a smaller interest rate hike in December. The minutes of the central bank’s meeting, due later on Wednesday, are expected to shed more light on its plans for future rate hikes.

Wall Street indexes rose overnight, with technology stocks leading gains on the prospect of smaller rate hikes by the Fed. Rising interest rates weighed heavily on technology stocks this year, as investors discounted future earnings from the sector against an appreciating dollar.

Strength in U.S. tech stocks spilled over to Asia, with South Korea’s KOSPI index up 0.5%, while the Taiwan Weighted index also added a similar amount.

Malaysian stocks lagged their peers for a third straight session, amid continued uncertainty over the country’s next Prime Minister. A hotly contested general election over the weekend resulted in the country’s first-ever hung parliament.

India’s Nifty 50 index rose 0.2%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7%.

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2022-11-23 00:57:18

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