Asian Shares Mixed As Rate Hike Worries Resurface

Asian stocks ended mixed on Monday a stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs report rekindled concerns over aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and Chinese imports data disappointed, highlighting weak domestic demand.

U.S.-China tensions over Taiwan also remained on investors’ radar, with China announcing fresh military drills in the seas and airspace around Taiwan.

Mainland Chinese stocks eked out modest gains after data showed exports grew 18 percent in July, sending the trade surplus to a record high and easing concerns over waning global demand. However, imports remained sluggish with a 2.3 percent increase year-on-year.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.3percent to 3,236.93, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.8 percent to 20,045.77, hit by selling in the technology sector on expectations for more aggressive policy tightening by the Fed. Baidu, Tencent Holdings and Alibaba Group Holding lost 2-4 percent.

Japanese shares ended slightly higher at a more than four-month high on optimism about domestic corporate outlook. The Nikkei 225 Index inched up 0.3 percent to 28,249.24, marking its highest close since March 29. The broader Topix closed 0.2 percent higher at 1,951.41.

Bandai Namco Holdings soared 4.1 percent after the game maker reported a whopping 55 percent year-on-year spike in video game sales for its fiscal first quarter.

Camera and office equipment maker Canon climbed 4.6 percent after announcing its second share buyback this year. Automaker Suzuki Motor jumped 10.4 percent after backing its full-year outlook.

Seoul shares ended little changed after a choppy session on U.S. rate hike woes. Automakers and steelmakers topped the gainers list, offsetting losses in the technology and shipping sectors.

Australian markets finished marginally higher, with mining and energy stocks pacing the gainers ahead of a key U.S. inflation reading due on Wednesday.

OZ Minerals shares surged 35.3 percent after it rejected a A$8.34 billion ($5.78 billion) takeover bid from BHP Group.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P NZX-50 Index slipped 0.2 percent to close at 11,702.81 after a survey showed inflation expectations are likely to slow in the third quarter.

U.S. stocks ended a volatile session mixed on Friday as upbeat jobs data calmed concerns about a recession but raised the chances of a 75 basis point rate hike at the September policy meeting.

Data showed that non-farm payroll employment spiked by 528,000 jobs in July after surging by an upwardly revised 398,000 jobs in June. The jobless rate unexpectedly slipped to 3.5 percent from 3.6 percent in June.

The Dow edged up 0.2 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed half a percent and the S&P 500 slipped 0.2 percent.

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