Asian stocks were mostly lower after routes in U.S. treasuries that expanded to the region after comments by Jay Powell that failed to stem concerns about U.S. inflation.
Hong Kong Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent after remarks chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, while Japan’s Topix rose 0.1 percent and the S&P / ASX 200 0.8 percent in Australia.
China’s CSI 300 stock index from Shanghai and Shenzhen fell as much as 2 percent before retreating and fell 0.5 percent by the end of the morning session, after Beijing set a “above 6 percent” target for economic growth in 2021 .
Prime Minister Li Keqiang hello China’s recovery from the “extraordinary” year and said the government wanted to create at least 11 million urban jobs at the National People’s Congress meeting, the parliament’s annual stamp meeting.
“The target of over 6 percent will allow all of us to dedicate our full energy to promoting reform, innovation and high-quality development,” Li said, adding that Beijing would “maintain healthy economic growth” when the new five-year annual plan began.
Analysts, however, were less exposed to China’s economic outlook, pointing to a significantly lower growth target compared to recent years.
“Actually, there aren’t many surprises in the government’s performance report other than the super-low GDP target,” said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING, who estimated growth at 7 percent this year. “That’s why I feel uncomfortable because I don’t know what exactly the government wants to tell us about the recovery path it expects.”
The mixed performance of Asia-Pacific stocks came after Powell failed to allay fears that the U.S. central bank was reacting too slowly to rising inflation expectations and long-term treasury yields, which are rising as bond prices fall.
Powell said Thursday that he expects the Fed to be “patient” in withdrawing support for the U.S. economy’s recovery, as unemployment remained above target levels. But he added that greater market disruption and tighter financial conditions would be needed to encourage further central bank intervention.
“As far as the bond market is concerned, I would be concerned about unregulated market conditions or the persistent tightening of financial conditions that mostly threaten the achievement of our goals,” Powell said.
Yields in ten-year U.S. vaults jumped 0.07 percentage points to 1.55 percent after Powell’s remark. During Asian trade on Friday, they climbed another 0.02 percentage points to 1.57 percent. Yields in the ten-year Australian treasury rose 0.07 percentage points to 1.83 percent
“Based on our growth forecast, long-term rates are likely to rise over the next few quarters – but at a slower pace,” said Eric Winograd, a senior economist at AllianceBernstein. “And we think the Fed is ready to go the other way if rates go up too much, too fast.”
The S&P 500, which closed 1.3 percent on Thursday, fell another 0.1 percent in futures markets when it began trading on Wall Street. The FTSE 100 was expected to fall 0.8 percent.