Asian markets bounce as China eases quarantine measures; oil prices further increase

People hold their umbrella during the morning rush hour in Beijing on June 28, 2022. (Photo by Noel Celis / AFP)


HONG KONG, China (AFP) — Most Asian markets reversed early losses Tuesday and oil continued its recent rally after China slashed the quarantine time for visitors, fuelling hope for a boost to the embattled economy.

The news came as Beijing and Shanghai appeared to have contained a Covid outbreak that had forced officials to impose lockdowns that had compounded global supply chain snarls.

Authorities said inbound travellers would now only have to quarantine for 10 days, instead of the three weeks that had been in place during the pandemic.

This photo taken on June 18, 2022 shows inbound passengers waiting to be taken to quarantine-designated destinations from the Beijing International Airport in Beijing. (Photo by Leo RAMIREZ / AFP)

The news provided a much-needed boost to shares, which had mostly been down on renewed concerns about central bank interest rate hikes and soaring inflation.

On Monday the central People’s Bank of China pledged to provide support to the world’s number two economy.

The gains extended a rally enjoyed last week on bets that a possible recession next year could allow finance chiefs to ease up on their monetary tightening campaign.

“This relaxation sends the signal that the economy comes first,” Li Changmin, at Snowball Wealth, said. “It is a sign of the importance of the economy at this point.”

After spending the morning in the red, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul and Wellington turned higher, while there were also gains in Sydney, Manila and Bangkok. Mumbai, Taipei and Jakarta slipped while Singapore was flat.

London, Paris and Frankfurt surged at the open.

However, Huang Yanzhong, of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations warned: “It’s not surprising that China has managed to return to so-called zero, after all the huge effort it’s made.

“But that doesn’t mean it can claim a thorough and durable victory because it didn’t eradicate the virus,” he said. “Unless they thoroughly fence off Beijing and Shanghai, the virus could sneak in anytime.”

Still, while the inflation and rate situation remains a worry, compounded by the war in Ukraine, some commentators remain relatively upbeat as the second half of the year approaches.

Market strategist Louis Navellier said in a note: “While it’s sobering that the first half of the year is the worst since 1970, history also says that when the first half of the year is down at least 15 percent the second half of the year is up every single time with an average return of 24 percent.”

And Ben Laidler, a global markets strategist at eToro, added that a lot of the expected economic weakness had been largely factored in by dealers.

“Much is already discounted by markets, which may be in ‘bad news is good news’ mode, as a slowdown cools inflation and interest rate fears,” he said.

“A ‘less bad’ gradual easing of inflation risks is possible, as is a slowdown — not recession — driving a ‘U-shaped’ rebound. The focus for investors is on cheap and defensive assets while managing rising risks.”

Oil prices surged more than one percent to build on a rally that has seen Brent and WTI pile on more than eight percent since Wednesday. Both main contracts had fallen heavily earlier in the month on recession worries.

German Minister of Economics and Climate Protection Robert Habeck shows a graph featuring forecasts of gas storage levels as he gives a press conference on energy supply security, on June 23, 2022 at his Ministry in Berlin. – He said Germany would raise the alert level under its emergency gas plan to secure supply following the recent reduction of pipeline supplies from Russia. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 12, 2019 a pump jack operates at an oil extraction site in Cotulla, Texas. – US crude crashed to below $15 a barrel on April 20, 2020, its lowest level for over two decades, as concerns about a virus-triggered demand shock and lack of storage eclipsed an output cut deal. (Photo by Loren ELLIOTT / AFP)

The gains have come on the back of a pick-up in demand from China, while supply fears have been raised by political crises in producers Libya and Ecuador.

“The rhetoric around declaring victory in Shanghai over Omicron seems to be prompting Asian traders to continue buying,” said OANDA’s Jeffrey Halley.

Meanwhile, Moody’s ratings agency confirmed Russia had defaulted on foreign debt for the first time in a century after bondholders did not receive $100 million in interest payments.

The missed payments follow a series of Western sanctions that have increasingly isolated Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia lost the last avenue to service its foreign-currency loans after the United States removed an exemption last month that allowed US investors to receive Moscow’s payments.

– Key figures at around 0720 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 27,049.47 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 0.6 percent at 22,374.65

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.9 percent at 3,409.21 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.9 percent at 7,322.05

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.6 percent at $111.32 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.6 percent at $117.00 per barrel

Dollar/yen: UP at 135.54 yen from 135.48 yen on Monday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0595 from $1.0583

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2287 from $1.2268

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.22 pence from 86.24 pence

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 31,438.26 (close)


© Agence France-Presse