Asian stocks trip on China tech woes, some cyclical shares bought
By Stanley White and Katanga Johnson
TOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Asian equities bounced between gains and losses on Thursday as a selloff in Chinese technology shares due to concerns they will be de-listed from U.S. bourses and worries about a semiconductor shortage rattled some investors.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.07%. The index is close to wiping out all the gains it has posted so far this year.
Hong Kong shares <.HSI> fell sharply at the open but then erased losses to trade up 0.16%. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Xiaomi Corp, and Tencent Holdings Ltd all traded lower. Shares in China rose 0.28%.
Elsewhere, Japanese stocks rose 1.33% and Australian shares rose 0.17% as bargain hunters bought shares of consumer goods, real estate and financial firms.
U.S. stock futures rose 0.28%. Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 0.21%, German DAX futures were down 0.1%, and FTSE futures were down 0.07%.
The U.S. securities regulator is introducing measures that would kick foreign companies off U.S. stock exchanges if they do not comply with U.S. auditing standards, and require them to disclose any government affiliations - measures widely expected to hit Chinese companies.
In addition, concerns about extended economic lockdowns in Europe, disruptions to the distribution of coronavirus vaccinations and potential U.S. tax hikes also weighed on investor sentiment.
“Rising interest rates, uncertainty of tax policy, concern over inflation all remain top of mind for investors. However, none of these themes speak to rising appetite for risk,” said Peter Kenny of Kenny’s Commentary LLC and Strategic Board Solutions LLC in Denver.
“We are seeing last year’s big gains underperform the broader market.”
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.01%, the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.01%, while the S&P 500 lost 0.55% as optimistic comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen failed to ease profit-taking in the tech sector.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe rose 0.06%.
U.S. crude fell 1.81% to $60.07 per barrel, and Brent fell 1.46% to $63.45 a barrel, giving back some of the previous day’s gains made after one of the world’s largest container ships ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking a vital shipping lane.
Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields rose to 1.6209%, supported by positive data on the U.S. manufacturing sector.
Investors have focused on the 10-year Treasury yield, pondering if there is room for long-term interest rates to run, said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.
“We know that the economy is primed to begin to really accelerate in the second quarter,” Kelly said. “But we haven’t seen that acceleration yet so that’s what we’re waiting for.”
The dollar hit a fresh four-month high of $1.1804 per euro on Thursday as extended lockdowns and worries about the pace of vaccinations across Europe hobbled the common currency.
Even Germany’s reversal of a call for a strict lockdown over the Easter period was not able to help the euro.
(Reporting by Stanley White and Katanga Johnson; Editing by Richard Pullin and Christopher Cushing)