Asian shares mixed on strong China recovery

by Jonathan Adams
China recovery

Nikkei 225 dipped 0.8%, S&P/ASX 200 added 1.4%, Kospi advanced 0.3%, Hang Seng slipped 0.3%, while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.6%

Asian shares were mixed Wednesday as data pointed to a strong economic recovery in China but worries continued about the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.8% in morning trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.4% while South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.3%, while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.6%. Stocks fell in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia.

A survey released Wednesday shows China’s factory activity bounced back in March from a three-month slowdown as export orders rose. The monthly index of manufacturing issued by the China’s statistics agency and an industry group rose to 51.9 from February’s 50.6 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity expanding.

Chinese manufacturing has rebounded to above pre-pandemic levels in most industries but consumer and export demand have been slower to recover. Restrictions on trade in technology have also hurt exports, economists said.

Let’s reiterate that the technology war is the No. 1 risk faced by China in 2021. Chinese companies continue to face difficulties in buying and selling technology parts, products and services from companies on the U.S. entity list, which can include non-U.S. companies, said Iris Pang, chief economist at IG.

Another risk, which is hopefully temporary, is the fragile recovery of export demand that comes from restrictive social distancing measures, and even lockdowns, in the U.S. and Europe, Pang said in a commentary.

U.S. stock indexes fell as another swell higher for Treasury yields pressured big technology stocks. Yields perked higher after a report showed consumers are even more confident than economists expected.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.74%. Its jump this year has forced investors to reconsider paying such high prices for many stocks, particularly the tech giants that were big winners earlier in the pandemic.

Health care stocks also dragged shares lower, outweighing gains by banks, industrial stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending.

The S&P 500 fell 0.3% to 3,958.55, its second decline in a row. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.3% from the all-time high it set a day before, to 33,066.96. The Nasdaq composite declined 0.1% to 13,045.39.

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