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Asian stocks struggle amid economic jitters, Nikkei slides

Asian stocks struggle amid economic jitters, Nikkei slides
© Reuters. — Most Asian stocks moved in a flat-to-low range on Tuesday as a string of weak data prints from major economies dented risk appetite, with Japanese stocks falling the most as they retreated from 33-year highs.

Underwhelming manufacturing activity readings from the U.S., Germany, and China battered sentiment this week, ramping up concerns over slowing global economic growth.

Fears of more interest rate hikes also weighed on regional stocks ahead of a later in the day.

RBA rate hike uncertainty in play

Australia’s index moved little on Tuesday, with traders hunkering down before a closely-watched interest rate decision by the RBA.

A slim majority of analysts expect the RBA to hike rates by 25 basis points, given that inflation is still trending well above the central bank’s target range.

But market watchers are also positioning for a potential hold by the central bank, given that many facets of the Australian economy – particularly manufacturing output and the housing market – have begun deteriorating under high interest rates.

Japanese stocks slide from 33-year highs

The index shed 1%, while the broader lost 0.7% as both indexes pulled back from 33-year peaks hit this week. The Nikkei was also the worst-performing index in Asia for the day.

While resilience in the Japanese economy and a dovish Bank of Japan drove a two-month rally in local stocks, gains have somewhat stalled amid fears of worsening global economic conditions and rising U.S. interest rates.

Pharmaceutical maker Daiichi Sankyo (TYO:) was the worst performer on the Nikkei, down 14% after the results of a lung cancer drug trial, in partnership with the UK’s AstraZeneca PLC (LON:), showed less benefits than expected.

Broader Asian markets were muted, with China’s and trading sideways, while Hong Kong’s index rose 0.5%, extending strong gains from the prior session.

A private survey showed on Monday that China’s manufacturing sector grew at a slower pace in June than the prior month, raising more doubts over a recovery in Asia’s largest economy this year.

South Korea’s fell 0.2%, while the index added 0.1%

Indian stocks at record highs

Singapore-traded futures for India’s index pointed to a mildly positive open for local stocks on Tuesday, after the Nifty and the closed at record highs on Monday.

Optimism over the Indian economy, heavy exposure to the technology sector, and increased foreign inflows were the biggest drivers of an Indian stock rally in recent weeks.

Still, analysts cautioned over local stocks seeing some near-term capitulation after sharp increases in valuations.

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