Asian Stocks Down, Concerns Mount as Delta COVID-19 Variant Continues to Spread By

Asian Stocks Down, Concerns Mount as Delta COVID-19 Variant Continues to Spread By

© Reuters.

By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly down Monday morning as the more virulent continues to spread while central banks contemplate withdrawing their stimulus measures.

Japan’s edged down 0.15% by 10:21 PM ET (2:21 AM GMT) and South Korea’s was down 0.26%.

In Australia, the edged down 0.17% with the city of Sydney currently under lockdown to deal with its latest outbreak involving the Delta COVID-19 variant. Reserve Bank of Australia Governor is also due to address a banking summit in the city on Tuesday.

Hong Kong markets were closed in the morning.

China’s inched up 0.02% and the gained 0.60%. The country has a busy week ahead, with the and purchasing managers’ indexes (PMIs) due on Wednesday and President Xi Jinping delivering a speech to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party a day later.

Global shares climbed back towards record highs as investors digested inflation data released by the U.S. during the previous week. The core personal consumption expenditures index grew a smaller-than-expected 0.5% in May while growing 3.4% .

Investors also continue to monitor progress on U.S. President Joe Biden’s bipartisan U.S. infrastructure agreement, valued at $1.2 trillion over eight years.

“Investors are keenly watching the progress of Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal through Congress. The package could boost demand significantly, driven by investment in renewables and electronic vehicle (EV) infrastructure,” ANZ analysts said in a note.

Concern over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s shock hawkish stance in its latest handed down earlier in the month is also fading, in turn boosting investor sentiment.

Even as fewer investors remain concerned about rising inflationary pressures forcing the central bank to hike interest rates, concerns remain about how the Fed’s decision will impact other central banks moving forward.

The Fed “is far away from tapering, they are far away from increasing rates, but at some point, if the markets see the Fed being too far behind the curve you will start to see some adjustment on the long end of the curve,” FlowBank SA chief investment officer Charles-Henry Monchau told Bloomberg.

“We might not have seen the peak in bond yields. I would not be surprised to see some adjustments in the coming months. That might be an excuse for the market to take a bit of profit,” he added.

Investors now look to June’s U.S. jobs reports, including , due on Friday.

Across the Atlantic, investors will also be paying attention to comments from European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde, due on Friday. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development will also meet in Paris on Wednesday to finalize its proposal to overhaul global minimum corporate taxation.

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