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Global equity/currency markets update: Asia stocks, oil skid as China's COVID protests roil sentiment

28 Nov 2022 7:46 am
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Mumbai, 28 NOV (Commoditiescontrol): Stocks in Asia, and oil weakened on Monday as rare protests in major Chinese cities against the country's strict zero-COVID policy raised worries about management of the virus in the world's second-largest economy.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.6%, after U.S. stocks ended the previous session with mild losses.

Australian shares lost 0.47% while Japan's Nikkei stock index was down 0.37%.

South Korea's KOSPI 200 index retreated 1.35% in early trade and New Zealand's S&P/NZX50 Index was off 0.4%.

In China, demonstrators and police clashed in Shanghai on Sunday night as protests over the country's stringent COVID restrictions flared for a third day.

There were also protests in Wuhan, Chengdu and parts of the capital Beijing late Sunday as COVID restrictions were put in place in an attempt to quell fresh outbreaks.

The COVID rules and resulting protests are creating fears the economic hit for China will be greater than expected.

Record high Covid-19 cases in China was met with mitigating attempts from the People's Bank of China (PBOC) last Friday, which reduced the reserve requirement ratio for most banks by 25 basis points (bp) and is expected to inject 500 billion yuan of liquidity into the economy.

But having seen similar moves twice this year, economic data continues to point to a lower-for-longer growth picture in the face of virus restrictions, ultimately leaving expectations of reopening to be the key driving force for market sentiments.

Rising unrest in China in the form of protests in several cities has translated to greater reopening pressure for authorities but any indications of reopening seems unlikely to be guided in light of current record high cases. This may provide a headwind for risk sentiments to start the week, with any inaction from the authorities to budge from its Covid-19 policy potentially a catalyst for more downbeat mood.

Fears about Chinese economic growth also hit commodities in Asia trade.

S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures both fell, pointing to possible declines in Wall Street later in the day.

U.S. crude dipped 0.25% to $76.08 a barrel. Brent crude fell 0.16 to $83.48 per barrel. Both benchmarks slid to 10-month lows last week and declined for a third consecutive week.

The dollar rose 0.22% against the yen to 139.4 . It remains well off its high this year of 151.94 on Oct. 21.

The euro was down 0.2% on the day at $1.0371, having gained 4.94% in a month, while the dollar index , which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies of other major trading partners, was up at 106.3.

In the United States, a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in Washington on Wednesday to the Brookings Institute on the economic outlook and the labour market will be closely watched by investors.

Gold was slightly lower. Spot gold was traded at $1750.49 per ounce.

(By Commoditiescontrol Bureau: +91-22-40015505)

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