Asian Shares Retreat On Fed Worries

Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Monday as an upbeat U.S. jobs report fanned concerns about the Federal Reserve’s hawkish policy tightening.

Geopolitical tensions and inflation concerns supported gold prices while Brent oil fluctuated in Asian trading following a run of seven weekly gains.

Chinese shares rallied as traders returned to their desks after a week-long holiday for the Lunar New Year. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index climbed 68.14 points, or 2.03 percent, to 3,429.58 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended on a flat note at 24,579.55, reversing an early slide.

Investors shrugged off the latest survey from Caixin showing that China’s services sector expanded at a slower pace in January. The corresponding PMI dropped to 51.4 from 53.1 in December. The composite index slipped to 50.1 in January from 53.0 in December.

Japanese stocks declined after disappointing earnings results from some industrial companies. The Nikkei average fell 191.12 points, or 0.70 percent, to 27,248.87 while the broader Topix index closed 0.24 percent lower at 1,925.99.

Olympus Corp slumped 12.2 percent and Taiyo Yuden lost 9.1 percent after posting weak financial results.

Shipping firm Nippon Yusen slumped 5.3 percent, chipmaker Advantest declined 2.7 percent and Uniqlo store operator Fast Retailing shed 1.6 percent while banks and energy stocks advanced. Tech startup investor SoftBank Group rose 2.6 percent.

Australian markets recoupled early losses to end on a flat note after the government said it would reopen borders to tourists on February 21. Investors also reacted to data showing that the country’s retail sales volumes rose a record 8.2 percent in the December quarter 2021, seasonally adjusted.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 9.40 points, or 0.13 percent, at 7,110.80, after having fallen nearly 1 percent earlier in the day. The broader All Ordinaries index ended largely unchanged at 7,414.20.

Banks and healthcare stocks led losses while energy companies, miners and travel-related stocks advanced. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group dropped 1.9 percent after reporting worse-than-expected first-quarter margins.

Markets in New Zealand were closed for a holiday. Seoul stocks fell slightly, as rate-hike worries and record Covid-19 cases in the country prompted traders to book some profits after a three-day rally. The Kospi average slipped 5.20 points, or 0.19 percent, to close at 2,745.06.

LG Chem plunged as much as 5.8 percent while SK Hynix, Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor gave up 1-2 percent. LG Energy Solution shares surged 8.7 percent ahead of the upcoming MSCI review.

U.S. stocks rose broadly on Friday, as investors reacted to a slew of upbeat earnings updates and a much stronger-than-expected January jobs report that lifted yields and added to the risk of an aggressive tightening by the Federal Reserve.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rallied 1.6 percent on the back of strong earnings news from Amazon and the S&P 500 rose half a percent, while the Dow slipped marginally.

U.S. employment jumped by 467,000 jobs in January compared to economist estimates for an increase of 150,000 jobs while the jobless rate inched up to 4.0 percent from 3.9 percent.

The increase in employment in December was upwardly revised to 510,000 jobs compared to the previously reported 199,000 jobs.

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