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Asian Stocks Down as Investors Digest ECB Decisions

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By Zhang Mengying

Investing.com – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly down on Friday morning. Investors are digesting the European Central Bank’s signals on future interest rate hikes ahead of U.S. inflation data.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.41% by 10:49 PM ET (2:49 AM GMT), and South Korea’s KOSPI was down 1.08%.

In Australia, the ASX 200 fell 0.99%

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.89%

Tech giants listed in Hong Kong plunged, with their sub-index opening 2.9% lower after the Chinese authority responded to a Bloomberg report. Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) Group Holding Ltd.’s U.S.-listed shares plunged after the China Securities Regulatory Commission denied an initial Bloomberg report which says it was considering a revival of the fintech company’s listing.

China’s Shanghai Composite was up 0.10% while the Shenzhen Component inched up 0.02%

Data released earlier showed that China’s factory factory-gate inflation cooled to its slowest pace in 14 months in May. The producer price index (PPI) rose 6.4% year-on-year in May, while a rise of 8.0% was recorded in April. It was the weakest reading since March 2021. The cooling might be caused by weak demand for steel, aluminum, and other industrial commodities due to COVID-19 disruption in production.

Meanwhile, the consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.1% year on year.

To tame high inflation, the European Central Bank (ECB) said on Thursday that it will prepare a quarter-point interest rate hike in July and a bigger hike in the fall if inflation remains high. The inflation in the eurozone now exceeds 8%.

Short-dated U.S. Treasury yields jumped higher with a selloff in the euro-area bond market after the interest rate hikes signals from the ECB.

The ECB also announced that it will cease net asset purchases on July 1, 2022.

Now investors shifted their focus to U.S. inflation data, due later in the day, for more clues on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes path.

“We’ve reconnected that inverse link between bond yields and stock prices,” Charles Schwab&Co. chief investment strategist Liz Ann Sonders told Bloomberg.

“There’s a bit more chatter, call it to whisper numbers, for the CPI being a little north of expectations. You add in a more hawkish stance by the ECB, and you have another weaker day.”

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