Asian Shares Mixed As Growth Worries Weigh

market trends1 100121 23jun22 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said he believed the U.S. economy is strong enough to handle coming interest rate hikes but acknowledged that a recession could happen.

Gold drifted lower and the dollar index eased, while oil prices fell nearly 2 percent to extend overnight losses on worries of a possible slowdown in fuel demand.

Chinese shares posted strong gains as electric vehicle stocks advanced on reports that Beijing is considering extending tax exemptions. Additionally, a top-level meeting on Wednesday approved a plan for the healthy development of China's large payment firms and fintech sector.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index surged 1.6 percent to 3,320.15 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 1.3 percent to 21,273.87.

Japanese shares fluctuated before ending on a flat note as data showed Japanese factory output grew at its slowest rate in three months.

The Nikkei 225 Index finished marginally higher at 26,171.25, while the broader Topix closed with a negative bias at 1,851.74.

Sumitomo Metal Mining led losses to close about 6 percent lower. Toshiba jumped 3.5 percent following a Reuters report that bidders are considering offering up to 7,000 yen per share to take the troubled conglomerate private.

Seoul stocks fell sharply and the Korean won reached a 13-year low as recession worries weighed on investors' minds. The Kospi tumbled 1.2 percent to 2,314.32.

Australian markets eked out modest gains as banks and technology stocks advanced, offsetting declines in the mining and energy sectors.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.3 percent to 6,528.40, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended 0.1 percent higher at 6,691.40. Block surged 4.7 percent to hit its highest level in a week.

Across the Tasman Sea, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index jumped 1.3 percent to close at 10,813.92. Ryman Healthcare, Chorus and Pushpay Holdings led the surge.

U.S. stocks ended modestly lower overnight and the dollar fell alongside Treasury yields as Fed Chair Powell said the central bank will look for "compelling evidence" that inflation is cooling before it begins to scale back its monetary policy tightening plans.

Powell later acknowledged that achieving a "soft landing" will be "very challenging" due in part to factors outside of the Fed's control and noted a recession is "certainly a possibility."

The Dow and the Nasdaq Composite slipped around 0.2 percent each, while the S&P 500 finished 0.1 percent lower.

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