Stocks rally in Asia, China property sector worries dampen sentiment

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asian stocks largely rallied on Tuesday, following Wall Street’s record highs overnight, though fresh worries about China’s property sector weighed on investors’ sentiments.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past in front of a stock quotation board showing the price of the SoftBank Corp. and Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Europe and U.S. markets look set to keep the upward momentum as FTSE futures and E-mini futures for the S&P 500 index were up 0.06% and 0.24% respectively at 0531 GMT.

MSCI’s gauge of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan rose 0.15% and briefly touched its highest in six weeks on Tuesday, after gaining throughout October.

The Asian regional benchmark however is down about 11% from its February high compared to the MSCI world equity index which is in sight of its record high hit six weeks ago.

“Equity prices are likely to be driven by technical positioning this week, as trade enters the final week of the month,” said Anderson Alves, an equities trader at global online trading platform ActivTrades.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average gained nearly 1.8%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.03% higher.

The CSI300 index inched 0.05% higher led by information technology stocks, but the Hong Kong benchmark Hang Seng Index eased 0.4%.

China property stocks extended their losses in the afternoon sessions as another developer, Modern land, defaulted on a payment, adding to worries about spiralling effects of the debt crisis at China Evergrande Group.

An index of Hong Kong-listed mainland property firms dropped 4.7% and the mainland’s CSI 300 Real Estate Index was down 2.4%.

China has said it will roll out a pilot real estate tax in some regions, adding to existing investor concerns about real estate in the mainland.

Edison Pun, Senior Market Analyst at Saxo Markets in Hong Kong noted that markets remained on a strong trend, having begun digesting the prospect that the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin tapering its monetary stimulus in November.

“However, we need to watch whether it will put on extra pressure on the Chinese property market when the property tax is rolled out. It could hurt consumption in the end if we are seeing an overall downturn in Chinese property prices,” he said.

A large proportion of S&P 500 companies are due to report results this week, including technology heavyweights Facebook, Apple Inc, Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet, which have been the drivers of the market rally this year.

“Of the S&P 500 firms that have reported this season, the net surprise on earnings has been 13%. So it is easy to understand the optimism percolating through risk appetite despite inflation fears,” said ANZ Research in a note.

“The economy remains very strong. We expect the recovery will re-accelerate once bottlenecks and COVID concerns subside.”

The European Central Bank and Bank of Japan are both set to hold monetary policy meetings on Thursday, although neither are expected to take major action on interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrials and S&P 500 closed at record highs on Monday. Tesla, which jumped 12.66% and breached $1 trillion in market capitalisation, also provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes were steady at 1.6397% off last week’s five month top of 1.7% as uncertainty about when the Federal Reserve would raise rates to curb rising inflation weighed on market sentiment.

The dollar rose 0.1% on Tuesday, recovering from a near one-month trough hit during the previous session.

Already nudging multi-year highs, oil prices rose marginally in a market gripped by tight global supply and strengthening fuel demand in the United States and beyond.

Brent crude futures pared earlier losses to stand at$86.11 a barrel, up 0.14%, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures edged 0.01% higher to $83.76 a barrel.

Spot gold was down nearly 0.2% to around $1,804 per ounce.

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