Asian markets mostly fell Tuesday as investors struggled to maintain a recent rally while weighing central banks’ inflation-fighting rate hikes and the possibility of a recession.
Renewed concerns about thinning supplies and rising demand also helped push oil even higher, after enjoying a big bounce Monday.
Shares rallied last week as the prospect of a contraction saw traders lower their bets on how long finance chiefs will tighten monetary policy, with some commentators eyeing possible cuts at the back end of 2023.
But the global advance fizzled Monday in New York, and on Tuesday, Asian investors ran out of puff.
Meanwhile, analysts said there was a worry on trading floors that the upcoming earnings season could see a lot of firms lower their forecasts for the year ahead.
“There is a clear lack of conviction by investors, with light trading volumes favouring the notion of an exhausted market with big declines set to be recorded this quarter, notwithstanding the outsized gains logged last week,” said National Australia Bank’s Rodrigo Catril.
Hong Kong was among the big losers, with tech firms reversing the previous day’s surge, while there were also losses in Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Jakarta and Wellington.
Sydney and Manila bucked the trend.
Another pledge by the central People’s Bank of China to provide support to the world’s number two economy had little impact on sentiment.
Still, some commentators remain relatively upbeat as the second half of the year approaches.
Market strategist Louis Navelier said in a note: “While it’s sobering that the first half of the year is the worst since 1970, history also says that when the first half of the year is down at least 15 percent the second half of the year is up every single time with an average return of 24 percent.”
And Ben Laidler, a global markets strategist at eToro, added that a lot of the expected economic weakness had been largely factored in by dealers.
“Much is already discounted by markets, which may be in ‘bad news is good news’ mode, as a slowdown cools inflation and interest rate fears,” he said.
“A ‘less bad’ gradual easing of inflation risks is possible, as is a slowdown—not recession—driving a ‘U-shaped’ rebound. The focus for investors is on cheap and defensive assets while managing rising risks.”
Oil prices jumped, building on a rally that has seen Brent and WTI pile on more than eight percent since Wednesday. Both main contracts had fallen heavily earlier in the month on recession worries.
The gains have come on the back of a pick-up in demand from China as it gradually emerges from lockdowns, while supply fears have been raised by political crises in producers Libya and Ecuador.
Key figures at around 0230 GMT
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 26,830.69 (break)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.8 percent at 22,046.66
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,366.48
West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.1 percent at $110.72 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.1 percent at $116.39 per barrel
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 135.25 yen from 135.48 yen on Monday
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0575 from $1.0583
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2263 from $1.2268
Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.22 pence from 86.24 pence
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 31,438.26 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 7,258.32 (close)