Hong Kong rallies as Asian markets bounce back from sell-off

Hong Kong (AFP) –


Asian markets bounced back Friday from the previous day's losses, though investors were treading cautiously as they try to gauge the impact of the Delta variant on the global outlook.

Hong Kong led the advances thanks to healthy buying into tech firms that were battered Thursday by China's latest clampdown on the gaming industry, but fears that authorities will crack the whip again continue to weigh on sentiment.

With Wall Street ending in the red again, it was eurozone equities that provided the positive lead after the European Central Bank tweaked its monetary stimulus programme, with boss Christine Lagarde saying the move was not a "tapering" but a "recalibration".

But she did warn that "the speed of the recovery continues to depend on the course of the pandemic and progress with vaccinations".

The move eased concerns about the end of the ultra-loose monetary policy that has been crucial to a recovery in economies and equities.

It also came as the Federal Reserve considers when it will start winding in its own scheme, with observers expecting it before the end of the year.

Hong Kong was once again the standout market, surging 1.6 percent in the morning, led by tech giants Tencent, NetEase, Alibaba and JD.com after they suffered extensive losses Thursday in reaction to Chinese officials ordering gaming firms to stop focusing on profits.

Tokyo resumed its own rally on stimulus hopes, while there were also healthy gains in Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Wellington and Manila.

Still, while Asia was on course to end the week with a flourish, economies and stock markets remain hostage to the ravages of the Delta Covid variant, which continues to send infection rates spiking and forcing some governments to impose strict containment measures.

And analysts warned that the recovery would take time.

"Ultimately, the path back to a more normal economic environment is likely going to be long, and we can expect setbacks along the way," Brad McMillan, of Commonwealth Financial Network, wrote in a note.

"The recent slowdown could lead to further volatility in the months ahead."

Oil prices stabilised after suffering steep losses Thursday in reaction to news that China had released some of its own strategic reserves in order to lower prices.

The move came after data showed factory gate inflation in the country had hit a 13-year high last month owing to the soaring cost of commodities.

The announcement reversed earlier gains in the crude market fuelled by news that US stockpiles had plunged by a record amount owing to the impact of Hurricane Ida, which tore through the Gulf of Mexico last month.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 30,347.41 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.6 percent at 26,120.22

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,706.09

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.78 yen from 109.72 yen at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3837 from $1.3835

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1820 from $1.1824

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.42 pence from 85.44 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.1 percent at $68.06 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $71.39 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent to 34,879.38 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.0 percent at 7,022.62 (close)