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Asian Stocks Up, China Looks to Relax COVID Measures but Concerns Remain

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By Gina Lee

Investing.com – Asia Pacific stocks were up on Monday morning, boosted by China’s easing of some COVID-19 restrictive measures and U.S. shares’ best week since November 2020 before Monday’s Memorial Day holiday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 2% by 10:24 PM ET (2:24 AM GMT) and South Korea’s KOSPI rose 1.27%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.91%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped 2.19%.

China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.55% and the Shenzhen Component inched up 0.04%.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 contracts were both up, a potential sign that the bounce could have further to run. The S&P 500 wiped out its May losses and snapped a string of seven consecutive weekly declines as institutional investors rebalanced portfolios in preparation for the end of the month.

The dollar was steady, while the euro fluctuated as the European Union (EU) failed to agree on a revised package of Russian sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Cash Treasuries will not trade in Asia due to the U.S. holiday.

China reported fewer COVID-19 cases in both Beijing and Shanghai, prompting the government to ease some restrictive measures in an effort to boost the economy.

The big question for investors now is whether the bottom of a recent selloff is near, as they have been buying the dip after one of the worst starts to the year for global equities. However, concerns remain about tighter monetary policies from central banks, escalating food inflation from the war in Ukraine, and China’s COVID-19 measures

“We are in the middle of a bear market rally,” Citigroup (NYSE:C) Australia head of investment specialists Mahjabeen Zaman told Bloomberg.

“I think the market is going to be trading range bound trying to figure out how soon is that recession coming or how quickly is inflation going down,” with Treasury yields set to peak in 2022, added Zaman.

The Fed is also set to start shrinking its $8.9 trillion balance sheet starting Wednesday and will also release its Beige Book report on regional economic conditions on the same day. New York Fed President John Williams and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard will also speak at separate events Wednesday, with Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester discussing the economic outlook a day later.

On the data front, the U.S. will release its May employment report, including non-farm payrolls, on Friday. The Eurozone consumer price index, alongside China’s manufacturing and non-manufacturing purchasing managers indexes, are due on Tuesday.

EU leaders will start a two-day special meeting in Brussels later in the day to discuss the war in Ukraine, defense, inflation, energy, and food security. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization will also release its monthly food price index on Friday, just as concerns about global supplies are hitting their peak.

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