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Asian stocks tread water amid mixed Chinese, Japanese inflation


Investing.com– Most Asian stocks kept to a tight range on Wednesday as markets digested mixed inflation prints from China and Japan, while focus remained on when the Federal Reserve could begin trimming interest rates.

Regional stocks took middling cues from Wall Street, where gains in technology stocks saw the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ Composite just about hit new peaks. But Wall Street’s pace of gains was slowing.

U.S. stock index futures were flat in Asian trade, as investors digested a testimony by Fed Chair Jerome Powell. Powell noted some cooling in the economy, but gave no clear signals on when the central bank could begin cutting rates. Still, traders were seen maintaining bets on a September cut.

Powell is set to testify further on Wednesday, while focus is also on key U.S. inflation data this week.

Asian markets grappled with mixed inflation prints from China and Japan.

Japanese stocks stall at record highs on mixed PPI inflation

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index moved sideways on Wednesday, briefly hitting a record high of 41,777.50 points, while the broader TOPIX rose 0.2% and also briefly hit a record high. 

Recent gains in Japanese markets were fueled largely by foreign buying, amid sharp declines in the yen and as investors bet on a dovish outlook for the Bank of Japan.

But data on Wednesday showed Japanese producer price index inflation picked up slightly in June, with the year-on-year rate rising to 2.9%. 

But month-on-month PPI inflation grew less than expected at 0.2%. 

The reading indicated that while Japanese inflation was increasing, it still remained sluggish, raising doubts over whether it could eventually pressure the BOJ into tightening policy further.

Chinese stocks mixed as CPI data disappoints but PPI improves

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 index rose 0.2%, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 0.8% as it rebounded from over two-month lows.

Chinese consumer price index inflation shrank in June from the prior month, as consumer spending weakened amid persistent concerns over an economic recovery. 

But PPI inflation shrank at its slowest pace in 16 months, indicating that China’s factories were benefiting from persistent government stimulus measures. 

Still, Wednesday’s data showed that China’s overall disinflationary trend remained in play, inspiring little confidence in the country. Chinese stocks were nursing steep losses in recent weeks as fears of a trade war with the West eroded sentiment.

Chinese trade data, due Friday, is now in focus.

Broader Asian markets moved in a flat-to-low range as optimism over U.S. interest rate cuts cooled. 

Australia’s ASX 200 index fell 0.3%, while South Korea’s KOSPI sank 0.2%.

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a mildly positive open, as the index and the BSE Sensex 30 continued to notch record highs on persistent confidence in India’s economy, which is the fastest growing major economy in the past two years.

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