US stocks tick higher ahead of Fed meeting

Chinese equities jumped on Tuesday, led by gains in property and technology stocks after the country’s ruling politburo vowed to boost employment, give more support to the real estate sector and revive a “tortuous” economic recovery.

Mainland China’s CSI 300 rose 2.8 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 3.4 per cent. There were also strong gains for the Hang Seng Mainland Properties index and the Hang Seng Tech index, which added 11.9 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively.

The Hong Kong-listed shares of Country Garden, China’s biggest developer by sales, gained 14.3 per cent after they fell 9 per cent on Monday alongside a sell-off in the sector. Among leading tech shares, ecommerce platform and search engine group Baidu both rose 6.9 per cent.

The Chinese bourses outperformed equities in the wider region, with South Korea’s Kospi Japan’s Topix both flat in the afternoon.

Investors closely watched Monday’s meeting of China’s powerful 24-member politburo for signs that Beijing would step in to revive the country’s economy, which rallied strongly at the beginning of this year after the unwinding of zero-Covid curbs but has since lost momentum.

The group acknowledged the “tortuous progress” the economy had made and said it would work to tackle unemployment, speed up the issuance of special local government bonds and boost consumption of electronics, electric vehicles and other goods.

It added that the government would “stabilise” foreign investment and trade, which have come under pressure in recent months, as well as work to increase international flights, which have yet to recover fully from the pandemic.

The economy has been plagued by weak consumption, a property sector liquidity crunch and flagging manufacturing, eking out growth of less than 1 per cent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months. The politburo on Monday said it was “necessary to actively expand domestic demand” and “expand consumption by increasing residents’ income”.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs wrote that the politburo was “slightly more dovish than expected”, noting the various challenges to the economy, and that they expected further policy support in the coming months.

However, economists warned the announcement was light on detail. Tuesday’s gains left Chinese equities up just 0.3 per cent for the year to date and down almost 3 per cent in dollar terms, well short of an almost 20 per cent rise for the S&P 500 and double-digit gains for peers around the region.

Robert Carnell, head of Asia-Pacific research at ING, said: “We will reserve judgment until we hear some details. We have had plenty of vague promises already, which don’t amount to a great deal so far.”

Tuesday’s moves also came ahead of a busy week of central bank meetings and monetary policy announcements. The US Federal Reserve announces a monetary policy decision on Wednesday, while the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan will set rates on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 closed 0.4 per cent higher on Monday, led by energy and financial stocks after a closely watched business survey pointed to slower than expected growth in the US in July, lowering expectations that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates further. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.2 per cent.

Oil prices also edged higher on Tuesday, with international benchmark Brent crude adding 0.2 per cent to trade at $82.93 and US marker West Texas Intermediate rising 0.3 per cent to $78.95.

Yields on two-year and 10-year US Treasury notes were broadly flat.

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