Most Asian stocks crept higher on Monday as risk appetite persisted on softer-than-expected U.S. inflation readings from the prior week, although a spike in oil prices saw markets remain wary of a potential resurgence in inflation over the coming months. China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes rose 0.9% and 0.6%, respectively, buoyed largely by shares of major electronics manufacturers after Beijing opened an investigation into local sales of U.S. memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc (NASDAQ:MU). While China’s investigation points to worsening trade ties between Beijing and Washington, any disruptions in Micron’s Chinese sales open up the market for local players. Shares of major Chinese chipmakers Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (HK:0981) and SG Micro Corp (SZ:300661) rose more than 2% each on Monday. Markets appeared to have largely looked past a private survey that showed growth in China’s manufacturing sector slowed in March from the prior month. A post-COVID economic rebound appears to be running out of steam, with China’s manufacturing sector facing increased headwinds from slow demand. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.6%, with local technology stocks, most of which also sport U.S. listings, down the most. Broader Asian markets advanced as softer-than-expected U.S. personal consumption expenditures data from last week pushed up hopes that inflation was easing, necessitating less hawkish measures by the Federal Reserve.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index Rose 0.5%, While India’s Nifty 50.
and BSE Sensex 30 indexes added 0.2% each. But a spike in oil prices on Monday, following a surprise output cut by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+), brewed some concerns over a potential resurgence in inflation, especially if fuel prices remain high. This could also attract more monetary tightening measures by major central banks, particularly the Fed. This notion kept gains in Asian markets limited on Monday. Focus this week is also on a slew of central bank meetings and economic readings. Australian and Indian central banks are set to decide on interest rates this week, while U.S. nonfarm payrolls data is expected to offer more cues on the path of U.S. monetary policy. Australia’s ASX 200 rose 0.6%, amid some bets that the Reserve Bank will pause its rate hike cycle by as soon as Tuesday, following two straight months of easing inflation. But some traders still expect the bank to hike by at least 25 basis points more.