Asia markets mixed after Wall Street’s surprisingly strong manufacturing data


Asian shares were mixed on Tuesday after Wall Street retreated as surprisingly strong US manufacturing data cast doubts over how soon the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates, Associated Press (AP) reported. Hong Kong gained 2.2 percent to 16,906.15. The Shanghai Composite index edged 0.1 percent lower to 3,074.96. China real estate developer Vanke’s Hong Kong-listed shares slumped 9.6 percent on Tuesday after it reported last week that its 2023 core profit sank 50.6 percent from a year earlier. In a rare case of intervention, in March state banks were tapped to provide financial support for Vanke.
In February, China’s consumer price index rebounded by 0.7 percent compared to the same period last year, driven by a surge in consumption during the holiday season, while the producer price index experienced a 2.7 percent year-on-year decline, suggesting persistent deflationary pressures. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.1 percent higher at 39,838.91. Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi was 0.2 percent higher to 2,753.16 and the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia gave up 0.1 percent to 7,887.90. On April 1, the S&P 500 dipped 0.2 percent from its all-time high to finish at 5,243.77.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.6 percent, from its record to 39,566.85. The Nasdaq composite was an outlier and added 0.1 percent to 16,396.83.
Treasury yields spurted higher after a report said US manufacturing unexpectedly returned to growth last month. It snapped a 16-month run of contraction, according to the Institute for Supply Management. It is the latest evidence showing the US economy remains strong despite high interest rates. That is a positive for the stock market because it can drive growth in profits for companies. But it can also keep upward pressure on inflation. That in turn could mean a more hesitant Federal Reserve when it comes to the cuts to interest rates that investors crave.
Following the manufacturing data, traders on Wall Street briefly trimmed bets on the first cut to rates coming as soon as June. That is still a “reasonable baseline” expectation, according to Deutsche Bank economists, but they say tough talk from Fed officials recently could hint at interest rates staying higher for longer than earlier thought.
The Fed has hiked its main rate to the highest level since 2001 in order to slow the economy and hurt investment prices enough to get inflation under control. Expectations for coming cuts have been a major reason the S&P 500 soared more than 20 percent from October through March. This week will offer several economic reports that could sway the Fed’s thinking, including updates on job openings across the country and the strength of U.S. services businesses. The headliner arrives on Friday, when economists expect a report to show that hiring cooled a bit last month.
A slowdown would be welcome on Wall Street, where the hope is that the economy remains solid but not so strong that it pushes inflation higher. Inflation is milder than it was at its peak nearly two years ago. But progress has become bumpier recently, with reports this year coming in hotter than expected.
In other trading U.S. benchmark crude oil gained US$1 to US$84.71 per barrel. Brent crude oil added 93 cents to US$88.35 per barrel. The dollar rose to 151.72 Japanese yen from 151.68 yen. The euro slipped to US$1.0737 from US$1.0745.

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