© Reuters. An investor looks at a listing board at a brokerage office in Beijing, China, Jan. 3, 2020. REUTERS / Jason Lee
From Alun John
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asian stocks held near year-to-date lows on Wednesday as Wall Street declines overnight heightened concerns over the economic impact of the delta coronavirus variant rampant in the region.
The dollar remained strong against most of its peers while New Zealand's central bank withheld a much-awaited decision to raise interest rates after the discovery of a Delta variant case locked the country.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand would have been the first G10 central bank to start raising rates, but said the decision was made in the context of the nationwide restrictions.
MSCI's broadest index for Asia-Pacific stocks outside of Japan rose 0.19% after falling for the last five sessions, trading just above the year-long lows seen in July.
Chinese blue chips rose 0.21% and 0.35%. Taiwan's stocks fell 1.09%.
"A narrative about the peak of economic growth in the second or third quarters really comes through," said Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JPMorgan (NYSE 🙂 Asset Management.
"Investors are trying to offset the reopening of economies with rising vaccination rates, but they are also seeing the impact of the spreading delta, and this is reflected in the slowing economic data, most of which has been surprising on the downside in the past two weeks. " said Craig.
China on Monday reported 7.9% year-over-year GDP growth of 7.9% in the second quarter, below the 8.1% forecast of a Reuters poll of economists.
Wall Street fell overnight after retail sales fell below expectations and valuations became increasingly strained. It lost 0.71% after hitting a new record high on Monday. ()
"In today's marketplace, it is very difficult to find undervalued stocks to recommend to investors," said Dave Sekera, chief US market strategist at Morningstar Research Services.
US stock futures, the, were little changed in the Asian hours, declining 0.01%.
In the forex markets, the dollar hit a nine-month high against the euro and stayed near recent highs against other major currencies as concerns over COVID-19 led investors to reduce exposure to riskier currencies.
Oil continued to decline in early Asian trade after falling for four sessions thanks to the stronger dollar and concerns over the surge in coronavirus cases.
declined 0.14% to $ 66.50 a barrel.
The benchmark return was 1.2617%, compared to Tuesday's US closing price of 1.258% on Tuesday
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