US economy

Asia shares slip on weak China economic data

© Reuters. Men walk past an electric board displaying Nikkei and other countries’ indexes outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan January 16, 2023. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Kane Wu

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Many Asia shares slipped on Tuesday after Beijing released weak fourth-quarter economic data, although investors’ expectations for a strong China rebound remained high even as the global economy edges closer to recession.

MSCI’s gauge of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan was down 0.34% at 0213 GMT, widening morning losses.

China’s economy hit a bump in the fourth quarter, growing by 2.9% year-on-year, National Bureau of Statistics data showed on Tuesday, beating expectations but still underlining the toll exacted by a stringent “zero-COVID” policy.

Gross domestic product (GDP) had been forecast to expand 1.8% from a year earlier, according to a Reuters poll of analysts, slowing from 3.9% in the third quarter.

Growth for 2022 was at 3.0%, the data showed, far below the official target of about 5.5%. Excluding the 2.2% expansion after COVID first hit in 2020, it was the worst showing in nearly half a century.

“I think investors will look through the Q4 GDP prints and focus on 2023,” said Redmond Wong, Greater China market strategist at Saxo Markets Hong Kong. “According to Chinese media, more than half of the 31 provinces and municipalities that have released 2023 work reports are targeting above 5.5% growth for 2023.”

Hong Kong’s fell 0.6% while China’s benchmark CSI300 Index was down 0.11%.

225 rose 1.35% as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) kicked off its two-day meeting. BOJ is under pressure to change its interest rate policy as soon as Wednesday, after the central bank’s attempt to buy itself breathing room backfired, emboldening bond investors to test its resolve.

drifted off multi-month lows on Tuesday, while the yen was perched near seven-month highs as investors held their breath for BOJ’s potential policy shift.

Australia’s was steady on Tuesday morning, down just 0.01% at 0128 GMT, after hitting a seven-month high on Monday.

European shares reached a near nine-month high on Monday, with the pan-European closing up 0.5% at 454.6 – its highest level since April 2022 – as global equities continued to build on a new year rally spurred by hopes of a rebound in China’s economy and an easing of prices pressures in the United States and Europe.

U.S. markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday.

“At the centre of the early 2023 financial market debate is how quickly inflation will fade, and whether or not major economies will be able to avoid hard landings,” ANZ analysts wrote in a research report on Tuesday.

“The drop in inflation in the U.S. is encouraging, although the fly in the ointment is that this drop is largely coming from energy and goods prices,” the report said.

“Services inflation continues to increase on an annual basis in the U.S. and will likely remain strong so long as the supply-demand mismatch in the labour market persists,” it added.

Two-thirds of private and public sector chief economists surveyed by the World Economic Forum in Davos expected a global recession this year, with some 18% considering it “extremely likely” – more than twice as many as in the previous survey conducted in September 2022.

fell 1.35% to $78.78 a barrel while was down 0.41% at $84.11 a barrel, although the prices were still near their highest levels this month as easing COVID restrictions in China raised hopes of a demand recovery in the world’s top crude importer.

was down 0.15% at $1915.18 per ounce.


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