Asian equities edged higher on Thursday, propped up by Hong Kong and China stocks even as growing fears of an economic slowdown and worries over the pace of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes weighed on sentiment.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) was up 0.19%, set to snap a two-day losing streak. China’s stock market (.SSEC) was 0.12% higher, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (.HSI) surging nearly 2%.
The gains in Chinese shares came after some investors booked profits on Wednesday after the government announced sweeping changes to ease a tough anti-COVID policy that has battered the world’s second-largest economy.
The market generally struggled for direction as traders digested data showing that U.S. worker productivity rebounded at a slightly faster pace than initially thought in the third quarter, but the trend remained weak, keeping labour costs elevated.
Increasing fears that the U.S. central bank might stick to a longer rate-hike cycle in the wake of strong jobs and service-sector reports has crimped investors’ risk appetite.
Also weighing on the equities market was U.S. Treasury yields, with five-year notes to 30-year bonds hovering at three-month lows.