Hang Seng Index shed 0.72%, KOSPI lost 0.03%, while ASX 200 edged down 0.04%
Asia Pacific stocks were mostly down Monday morning as investors continued to digest the U.S. employment report released at the end of the previous week.
China’s Shanghai Composite inched down 0.11% by 1:46 AM GMT while the Shenzhen Component was up 0.74%. China is due to release trade data, including export, import and trade balance figures, later in the day.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.72%.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.28% while South Korea’s KOSPI edged down 0.03%.
In Australia, the ASX 200 edged down 0.04%.
The U.S. employment report said that non-farm payrolls rose by 559,000 in May. May’s unemployment rate was at a better-than-expected 5.8%.
The report continued to fuel the debate as to whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will taper its asset purchases earlier than expected as price pressures rise.
The data was perfect for a goldilocks type outlook for risk: not too hot to bring in fears of a faster Fed taper, and not too cold to worry about the outlook for the recovery. This caused a weaker dollar, better stocks, reinforced the earlier bid in commodities, and boosted emerging markets, NatWest Markets strategist John Briggs told Reuters.
Investors now await consumer price index (CPI) figures, due later in the week, for further clues to the Fed’s next move. However, Briggs expects that Fed officials could start discussing tapering at its June policy meeting, with the start coming in early 2022 and a rate hike not until 2024. The meeting is currently scheduled to take place from Jun. 15 to 16.
The European Central Bank (ECB) holds is also due to hand down its policy decision on Thursday. The central bank is widely expected to stay the course regarding its current stimulus measures, with tapering still in the distant future.
Other investors also looked to Thursday’s CPI data for further clues.
The slightly softer-than-expected rise in U.S. payroll employment in May probably won’t change the Fed’s thinking, but another pickup in CPI inflation likely to be reported on Thursday will further spur the taper talk, AMP Capital head of investment strategy and chief economist Shane Oliver said in a note.
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