Asian Shares Retreat In Thin Holiday Trade

Asian stocks fell in thin trading on Monday, with markets in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Indonesia closed for holidays.

Underlying sentiment was hit by concerns over inflation, the ongoing war in Ukraine and Covid-19 lockdowns in China.

Disappointing factory activity data from China, the top trading partner for much of the region, also added to concerns about slowing global growth.

China released data on Saturday showing that factory activity in the country contracted for a second month to its lowest since February 2020 because of Covid lockdown.

Separately, Caixin released its own manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, revealing a second straight month of deterioration.

Japan’s Nikkei index ended slightly lower as investors awaited this week’s FOMC meeting outcome for directional cues. The Nikkei average slipped 0.11 percent to 26,818.53 ahead of the Golden Week holidays from Tuesday to Thursday.

Tech stocks led losses with Advantest tumbling 4.8 percent. Nintendo lost 2.4 percent after saying it expects to sell only about 20 million Switch game consoles in the current fiscal year.

Murata Manufacturing jumped 5.2 percent and Fujitsu added 5 percent after reporting strong earnings. Technology conglomerate Hitachi surged 6.7 percent after U.S. private equity company KKR agreed to buy the company’s logistics arm in a $5.2-billion deal.

In economic releases, Japan’s consumer confidence index rose for the first time in six months in April, while factory activity expanded at a slower pace from the previous month in April, separate reports showed.

Australian markets tumbled amid broad-based selling as traders priced in a 15-basis-point hike at the RBA’s May 3 meeting. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.18 percent to 7,347. Tech stocks such as Tyro and Xero lost 6-7 percent.

Qantas advanced 2.9 percent after the airline said it expects to return to profitability in the financial year 2023-24.

New Zealand’s NZX-50 index ended down 0.84 percent at 11,784.36, with Air New Zealand and A2 Milk losing 1-2 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi average dipped 0.28 percent to 2,687.45, snapping a two-day winning streak on concerns over the Fed’s aggressive tightening and increasing concerns about difficulties in global supply chains.

The downside was capped after survey data showed the manufacturing sector in South Korea expanded at a faster rate in April. Tech stocks and financials were among the worst hit.

U.S. stocks nosedived on Friday after Amazon reported a surprise loss and issued weak revenue guidance for the second quarter.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plummeted as much as 4.2 percent to reach its lowest closing level since late November 2020, while the Dow plunged 2.8 percent and the S&P 500 slumped 3.6 percent.

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