Asian Stocks Mixed as Chinese Data Disappoints, COVID-19 Cases Spike

imageStock Markets3 minutes ago (May 16, 2021 10:48PM ET)

(C) Reuters.

By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were mixed Monday morning as some countries in the region deal with spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases and inflation worries continued to weigh on investor sentiment.

China’s Shanghai Composite inched down 0.01% by 10:38 PM ET (2:38 AM GMT) while the Shenzhen Component jumped 2.09%. Data released earlier in the day said that industrial production slowed down to 9.8% year-on-year in April.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 1.06%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.24% and South Korea’s KOSPI edged down 0.15%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.69%. The Reserve Bank of Australia will publish the minutes of its latest meeting on Tuesday, and employment data for April, including employment change and unemployment rate figures, are due two days later.

Treasury yields steadied after their tumble on Friday. U.S. data released that day said that retail sales grew 0% month-on-month in April.

COVID-19 was front and center in the region as Singapore and Taiwan deal with their latest outbreaks. A record 206 new cases were recorded in Taiwan on Sunday, while Singapore shifted primary, secondary, junior college and Millennia Institute students to full home-based learning from May 19 till the end of the school term on May 28.

Commodities seem to have hit pause on their recent rally, with copper and iron ore prices climbing down from record highs amid Chinese efforts to cool red-hot prices.

Investors also remain concerned that central banks will start pulling back support earlier than expected as concerns about runaway inflation linger and continue to weigh on global stocks.

Investors also look to the minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest meeting, due to be released on Wednesday, for clues as to when the current dovish policy will be shifted.

“Record highs in copper prices and fears over extended oil price gains will be hard to ignore” heading into the second half of 2021, Standard Chartered (OTC:SCBFF) global head of research Eric Robertsen said in a note.

“The Fed believes this is part of the economic reopening narrative, and for now, it is likely to let the dust settle. But it might start looking over its shoulder if prices stay high,” the note added.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester insisted that the Fed’s policy is currently in a good place while glossing over economic data that will be volatile as the economy reopens.

Mester’s colleagues, Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, will also speak later in the week.

On the cryptocurrency front, bitcoin tumbled below $45,000, its lowest level since February 2021, after Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk followed up his tweet from the previous week stating that Tesla has suspended the digital currency as a payment method due to environmental concerns.

Asian Stocks Mixed as Chinese Data Disappoints, COVID-19 Cases Spike

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