Daily updates on foreign exchange news

Asian Stocks Down Despite Positive Chinese Trade Data, Progress on U.S. Stimulus

Asia Pacific stocks were mostly down Monday morning, even as optimism over the U.S.’ $1.9 trillion stimulus package and hopes for a global economic recovery from COVID-19 grew.

China’s Shanghai Composite edged down 0.18% by 10:02 PM ET (3:02 AM GMT) and the Shenzhen Component was down 0.68%.

Trade data released earlier in the day showed that exports rose 60.6% year-on-year in February, imports rose 22.2% year-on-year and the trade balance was at $103.25 billion. All the metrics were higher than the figures in forecasts prepared by as well as January’s numbers.

The annual session of the National People’s Congress, which opened on Friday, also continues.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slumped 1.16%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.23%, with GDP data to be released on Tuesday. The country extended its state of emergency in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, originally slated to end on Mar. 7, until around Mar. 21.

South Korea’s KOSPI inched down 0.10% and in Australia, the ASX 200 rose 1.01%.

The U.S. Senate passed the massive stimulus package, which was proposed by President Joe Biden earlier in the year, on Saturday. The House of Representatives aims to pass the bill before Tuesday and get Biden’s sign-off before a deadline to renew unemployment aid programs expires on Mar. 14.

U.S. jobs data released on Friday also continued to give stocks a boost, with non-farm payrolls for February at 379,000, above the 182,000 in forecasts prepared by and January’s 166,000 reading.

The better-than-expected data and raised hopes for more stimulus measures also pushed bond yields up, with ten-year Treasury yields hit the 1.6% mark on Friday.

The moves continue to increase worries about inflation risk and raised questions about equity valuations. However, the Federal Reserve on Friday played down the need for a monetary policy response.

“Clearly with the stimulus measures in place, there is some concern for inflation, but nothing to derail the relatively positive outlook for equities at this point,” Rachel Farrell, chief executive officer of JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) Asset Management in Australia, told Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, the U.S. will release more economic data, namely the February consumer price index, on Wednesday.

Across the Atlantic, the European Central Bank will hand down its monetary policy when it meets on Thursday.

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Mar 8, 2021