| 24 July 2024, Wednesday |

Asia stocks rally as China offers markets a hand

Asian stocks rose on Monday as China announced more steps to bolster its struggling markets, but the tone remained cautious ahead of data on US employment and inflation that might determine whether interest rates need to be raised again.

Beijing stated on Sunday that it will reduce the stamp fee on stock trading, in the latest move to bolster the faltering market and follow up on housing assistance measures. The creation of 37 retail funds has also been approved by China’s securities regulator.

The help was needed given profits at China’s industrial firms fell 6.7% in July from a year earlier, extending this year’s slump to a seventh month.

Investors welcomed any aid they could get and Chinese blue chips (.CSI300) climbed 1.5% in choppy trade, coming off their lows for the year so far.

Eyes are now on the official PMI for August out on Thursday which is still expected to show activity is in the red.

“We believe these latest measures are in line with the directive from the July Politburo meeting, when the authorities pledged to invigorate China’s capital markets, but do not represent a meaningful increment in policy support for reviving the real economy,” wrote analysts at Nomura in a note.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) climbed 1.0%, having eked out minor gains last week to break a three-week losing streak.

Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) rose 1.6%, underpinned in part by the persistent weakness of the yen.

The improvement in risk sentiment saw EUROSTOXX 50 futures add 0.7%, while FTSE futures were closed for a holiday. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures both edged up 0.1%, extending last week’s modest rise.

The market did manage to weather a slightly hawkish outlook from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, who reiterated they might have to raise rates again but promised to move “carefully”.

“We take this to mean that the FOMC does not intend to hike at the September meeting,” wrote analysts at Goldman Sachs.

“We continue to expect that the FOMC will ultimately decide that further policy tightening is unnecessary, making the hike at the July FOMC meeting the last of the cycle.”

Futures imply around an 80% chance of a steady outcome at the Sept. 20 meeting, but a 58% probability of a hike by year end.

  • Reuters