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Asia shares buoyed by China property rally

Asian share markets have taken comfort from China’s support for its property sector but uncertainty remains over the impact of Beijing’s zero-COVID policy.

November 29, 2022
By Wayne Cole
29 November 2022

Asian shares have edged higher as Beijing’s latest move to support developers boosted the property sector, though it was still not clear what new damage public unrest over China’s zero-COVID policy might do to the economy.

Shares of Chinese property companies surged on Tuesday after the country’s securities regulator lifted a ban on equity refinancing for listed property firms.

That helped Chinese blue chips bounce 1.1 per cent, while MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.7 per cent.

Japan’s Nikkei lagged with a drop of 0.4 per cent, while South Korea firmed 0.3 per cent.

S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures both nudged up 0.1 per cent. EUROSTOXX 50 futures lost 0.2 per cent and FTSE futures 0.1 per cent.

Markets were still nervous that the widening web of restrictions in China would lead to more public unrest and further undermine growth.

Analysts at Nomura said their index of lockdowns now showed the equivalent of 25 per cent of China’s GDP was affected, compared to a previous peak of 21 per cent last April.

“Although Shanghai-style full lockdowns may be avoided, partial lockdowns in a rising number of cities may be more costly than full lockdowns in just a couple of cities,” Nomura said.

Underlining the far-reaching impact of Beijing’s policies, Apple Inc shares had fallen 2.6 per cent on reports COVID-19 restrictions would cause a sizable shortfall in production of iPhone pro units.

Sentiment also soured when Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Barkin became the latest official to douse speculation the central bank would reverse course on interest rates relatively quickly next year.

That heightened tensions ahead of a speech by Fed chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday that is shaping up to be a major messaging event as markets yearn for a pivot on policy.

The Fed is not alone in being hawkish, with European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde warnings euro zone inflation has not peaked and could go even higher.

Figures for inflation in Germany and Spain are due later on Tuesday, ahead of the main eurozone report on Wednesday.

The dollar also bounced to 138.87 yen, after briefly touching a three-month trough of 137.50 overnight. The dollar index rallied to 106.57, having been as low as 105.31 overnight.

The dollar did ease back on the offshore yuan at 7.2161 , after jumping 0.7 per cent on Monday.

Bitcoin fell after major cryptocurrency lender BlockFi filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection along with eight affiliates.

The gyrations in the dollar saw gold ease back to $US1,744 an ounce after briefly getting as high as $US1,763.

US oil prices hit their lowest this year overnight as concerns over Chinese demand warred with talk of possible OPEC+ output cuts.

US crude futures slipped 34 cents in early trade to $US76.90 a barrel, though that was off a trough of $US73.60, while Brent lost 28 cents to $US82.91.

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