HONG KONG, March 25 (Reuters) – Asian shares skidded on Friday, dragged down by declines in Chinese tech stocks, while elsewhere trading was choppy amid hawkish U.S. monetary policy, shifts in Chinese economic policy, and ongoing ructions in commodity markets amid the war in Ukraine.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS dropped 0.47%, but after earlier gains was nonetheless up 0.5% on the week, while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 was little changed, having closed the previous day at a nine-week high.
European futures pointed to a mixed open, with Euro STOXX futures STXEc1 last up 0.24%, and FTSE futures FFIc1 down 0.1%. S&P 500 future ESc1 inched up 0.1%.
In Asia, the biggest tumbles were in Hong Kong, where tech stocks .HSTECH shed 2.5% as U.S. and Hong Kong dual-listed names took a hit from renewed fears that a row over audit records will force them to delist in the United States.
Index heavyweight Alibaba 9988.HK, for example, lost 5.9%.
Australian stocks .AXJO edged higher with miners to the fore, but Chinese blue chips .CSI300 fell 1.23%, as the benefits of last week’s political intervention began to wane.
“In terms of Asia we have seen asset prices stabilise a little bit this week following last week’s statement from the Chinese vice premier. This may not be sustainable unless we see additional easing and have better visibility on the regulatory front,” said Carlos Casanova, senior Asia economist at UBP.
“Though what we are starting to see is a little more caution from global investors when it comes to the U.S. economy, and what that means for Asia,” he added.
Last week, Chinese vice premier Liu He said Beijing would roll out support for the Chinese economy, sending Chinese and Hong Kong stocks higher initially.
Investors were also watching Japan, where the central bank refrained from stepping into the market to buy Japanese government bonds (JGB) on Friday morning even as its yield target came under pressure.
The yield on 10-year JGBs JP10YTN=JBTC rose to 0.24% on Friday morning, exceeding the level at which the Bank of Japan had offered to buy an unlimited amount of JGBs at 0.25% on Feb. 10, part of a policy to maintain interest rates at their current ultra-low levels.
Japanese bond yields are being pulled higher by U.S. Treasury yields, which have risen along with expectations for a more aggressive pace of rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
U.S. 10 year notes last yielded 2.3667% just off Tuesday’s 22-month high of 2.417%.
Chicago Fed President Charles Evans was the latest U.S. policymaker to sound more hawkish, saying on Thursday the Fed needs to raise interest rates “in a timely fashion” this year and in 2023 to curb high inflation before it is embedded in U.S. psychology and becomes even harder to get rid of.
The divergence between U.S. and Japanese monetary policy has weighed on the yen, though the BOJ’s failure to intervene meant the dollar lost 0.7% on the Japanese currency JPY= to 121.5 yen per dollar.
The dollar’s moves against other currencies have been less dramatic, however, with the U.S. currency’s index measure against six peers =USDslightly softer at a little at 98.488.
Overnight the three main U.S. stock indexes each rallied more than 1%, as investors snapped up beaten-down shares of chipmakers and big growth names and supported by a fall in oil prices. .N
Oil continued to slide a little on Friday, as the United States and allies considered releasing more oil from storage to cool markets. Brent crude LCOc1 falling 0.21% to $118.78 per barrel and U.S. crude down 0.3% to $112 a barrel, but prices were still very high by historic standards. O/R
Spot gold remained elevated at $1,957 an ounce, steady on the day. GOL