Berliner TageBlatt - Asian, European markets enjoy respite from heavy selling pressure

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Asian, European markets enjoy respite from heavy selling pressure
Asian, European markets enjoy respite from heavy selling pressure / Foto: © AFP

Asian, European markets enjoy respite from heavy selling pressure

Markets enjoyed some much-needed gains Thursday having so far suffered a troubled week, with sentiment lifted by bargain-buying, a positive lead from New York and Europe, and further pledges of economic support for China's economy.


However, traders remain on high alert over a range of crises from the Ukraine war, surging inflation, central bank monetary tightening and Chinese Covid lockdowns.

The ongoing earnings season has seen a mixed bag of results that have weighed on tech firms, though there was some cheer from a forecast-beating reading by Facebook parent Meta on Wednesday, which analysts said could provide some relief to the sector. Apple and Amazon are due later this week.

Investors in Asia also took heart from a report by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV that said officials had promised to push forward more policies to lift employment.

It cited Premier Li Keqiang as saying Wednesday that stabilising the jobs market was a "key support" to keep economic growth within a proper range.

The comments come as unemployment has jumped in recent months owing to lockdowns in key cities including Shanghai, which have been put in place to battle an outbreak of Covid but have hammered the economy and threaten global growth.

"Traders are positioning for a potential upside ahead of Friday's Politburo meeting and the long holiday," said Stephen Innes at SPI Asset Management.

But in the latest sign that officials refuse to back down on their zero-Covid strategy, the megacity of Guangzhou cancelled hundreds of flights Thursday and launched mass testing of 5.6 million people after one suspected Covid case.

Beijing's top brass have made several announcements in recent weeks to lift sentiment. Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for an "all-out" campaign to build infrastructure, while the People's Bank of China has cut the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve in order to free up money to lend.

And Vice Premier Liu He pledged to provide stability to the stock market and support overseas share listings.

But investors remain sceptical as officials have so far provided very little of anything concrete on the policy front, with analysts saying the key obstacle for equities is the leadership's refusal to budge from its drive to eradicate Covid.

Hong Kong rose more than one percent while Shanghai was also in positive territory.

Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul and Wellington all piled on more than one percent, while there were also gains in Singapore, Mumbai, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta.

London, Paris and Frankfurt enjoyed healthy gains at the open of business.

However, "risk assets in general still need to navigate the consequences from what looks to be an increasingly more aggressive policy tightening by many central banks," National Australia Bank's Rodrigo Catril said.

"China's zero-Covid policy remains in place and the prospect of a protracted Russia-Ukraine conflict does not bode well for the energy prices and energy supply for Europe in particular."

And Kate Moore, at BlackRock, told Bloomberg TV: "The uncertainty factor is some of the highest we've seen in the course of the last number of years.

"There are so many crosscurrents. And against that backdrop, it's hard to see volatility come down dramatically."

Markets are gearing up for next week's major event, the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting, where it is expected to lift interest rates half a point and signal further big increases through the year as it battles to rein in runaway inflation.

The prospect of borrowing costs being ratcheted up has sent the dollar soaring against its peers, sitting around a 20-year high against the yen as Japan maintains an ultra-loose monetary policy.

The greenback is also at a five-year high on the euro as the European Central Bank refuses to follow the hawkish Fed, while the single currency is also being weighed by fears over the economy as Russia cuts off energy supplies to parts of the continent.

- Key figures at 0720 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.8 percent at 26,847.90 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.1 percent at 20,161.61

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 2,975.48 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,464.20

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.0 percent at $104.28 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9 percent at $101.10 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0527 from $1.0556 late Wednesday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2536 from $1.2543

Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.97 pence from 84.14 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 130.43 yen from 128.43 yen

New York - Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 33,301.93 (close)