says Asian stocks calm as concerns about interest rates rise again


©Reuters. – Most Asian stock markets traded in tight ranges on Wednesday as recent comments from Federal Reserve officials suggested the central bank might not complete all of its rate hikes.

Concerns about China’s economy also calmed regional sentiment following a series of weak economic indicators from China in October.

Despite a strong recovery in Asian markets after the Fed weakened its stance last week, gains have largely cooled in recent sessions as investors await more signals from the Fed and China.

Japan’s index rose 0.3%, while the broader index fell 0.6%. South Korea’s index fell 0.2%, stabilizing after the government’s short-selling ban spurred sharp swings in domestic stocks this week.

Australia’s index rose 0.2%, with major bank shares benefiting from the Reserve Bank’s decision. But this was largely offset by a sharp decline in commodity inventories, as metals and oil prices tumbled this week.

Indian stock index futures opened slightly higher, with the index slightly lagging other indexes in recent sessions.

Chinese stocks and Hong Kong indexes were flat on Wednesday, while the Hong Kong index rose 0.3% on strength in domestically listed Chinese property stocks.

Media reports said Chinese regulators held discussions with several major real estate developers, including Vanke Ltd. (HK: ), Poly Real Estate Group Co., Ltd. (SS: ) and Longfor Real Estate Co., Ltd. (HK: ), assess their financial health amid the continued decline in the real estate market.

The news raised hopes that the government would provide more support for the struggling property sector, which has suffered a series of high-profile defaults in recent years.

But sentiment on China remains difficult following weakness in October. The focus now is on this month’s data due on Thursday.

An overnight rebound in the U.S. dollar and Treasury yields weighed on Asian stocks, with several Federal Reserve officials warning that the bank could still raise interest rates further.

Traders generally forecast a slowdown in the economy amid weakening hawkish signals from the Federal Reserve and weaker-than-expected nonfarm payrolls data.

But some Fed officials dispute that view. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari and President Michelle Bowman warned that the central bank may need to raise interest rates again given the toughness of inflation and the resilience of the U.S. economy.

Their comments prompted renewed speculation about a pause, with focus now turning to two speeches this week for further signals on monetary policy.


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