Asian markets received a much-needed boost Wednesday as Hong Kong’s tech titans led a comeback in the city following their recent fall, while oil prices soared back above $100 but remain under pressure from concerns about Chinese demand.
While the gains are encouraging, more volatility is predicted as Russia continues its conflict in Ukraine and the Federal Reserve begins its campaign of interest rate rises to combat inflation.
Lately, trading displays have been swathed in red as investors fretted about the war in Eastern Europe, a jump in prices, and a Covid epidemic across China, which has resulted in the closure of many cities, including the major tech hub of Shenzhen.
Hong Kong was the most affected, with the Hang Seng Index losing approximately 10% in three days as frantic traders threw out internet heavyweights such as Alibaba, JD.com, and Tencent.
The industry has taken a beating as a result of concerns about regulatory crackdowns by both Beijing and US authorities, as well as mounting fears about probable US penalties if China aids Russia in its war with Ukraine.
The announcement that the southern Chinese tech capital of Shenzhen had been placed under lockdown to combat a Covid epidemic exacerbated the problem.
However, Hong Kong recovered some of its losses on Wednesday, surging more than 3% at one point, due to a more than 6% rise in the Hang Seng Tech Index.
JD.com increased by 14 percent, while Alibaba and Tencent increased by more than six percent each. NetEase, XD Inc, and Meituan were also seeing significant improvements.
The rest of Asia followed suit, mirroring Wall Street’s dip-buying rise.
Tokyo and Singapore increased by more than 1%, while Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Wellington, Taipei, and Jakarta also increased.
A sudden decline in oil prices, only a week after they reached 14-year highs and fueled worries of already high inflation, has bolstered sentiment.
Both major contracts dipped below $100 on Tuesday, as lockouts in several major Chinese cities fueled concerns about the economy and demand in the world’s largest importer of the commodity.
Prices have been weighed down by hopes for an Iran nuclear agreement, which may see Tehran resume global oil shipments, as well as signals that Russia-Ukraine peace negotiations are proceeding slowly.
Crude, on the other hand, saw renewed buying interest Wednesday, with Brent returning to the triple digits on concerns that sanctions against Russia will keep supplies tight even if the war is over soon.
The rise in crude oil prices, as well as other commodities such as wheat and metals, has given central banks a dilemma as they strive to transition away from pandemic-era monetary policy and contain in inflation.
And the Federal Reserve’s meeting, which ends later Wednesday, is under the spotlight as the central bank prepares for what is likely to be a series of rate rises this year.
While the hike has been factored in by investors, they will be paying careful attention to what bank chief Jerome Powell says afterwards, given the Ukraine conflict and the possibility of a slowdown in economic growth.
Meanwhile, figures reveal that consumer prices in the United States are growing at the quickest rate in 40 years.
“The convergence of events building up to this meeting puts policymakers in an extremely uncomfortable situation,” Nomura Securities International’s Matt Rowe told Bloomberg Television.
“It’s being widely contested if causing a recession to reduce the amount to 2% is truly a policy blunder.” He went on to mention inflation.