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Asian Stocks Down, China Evergrande Preps Funds Ahead of Payment Deadline

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By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly up on Friday morning, with China Evergrande Group (HK:3333) reportedly making funds available ahead of its looming payment deadline.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.70% by 9:59 PM ET (1:59 AM GMT). Data released earlier in the day showed that the national core consumer price index (CPI) grew 0.1% year-on-year in September. The national CPI grew 0.4% month-on-month and 0.2% year-on-year.

The data also showed that the manufacturing purchasing manager’s index (PMI) was 53 in October.

South Korea’s KOSPI inched up 0.05% while in Australia, the ASX 200 edged down 0.14%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.21%.

China’s Shanghai Composite inched up 0.03% while the Shenzhen Component was up 0.24%, with the deadline for China Evergrande to pay an $83.5 million bond coupon coming up this weekend. The developer made funds available for a bond coupon due Sep. 23 to a trustee account on Thursday ahead of the expiration of a 30-day grace period for the payment, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve is moving closer to beginning asset tapering, with bets on whether this will be followed by interest rate hikes also increasing. In Asia Pacific, the Reserve Bank of Australia bought bonds to defend its yield target.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will take part in a policy panel discussion later in the day, and investors will be paying attention to his comments.

Global shares are set for a third weekly advance, with the ongoing economic recovery from COVID-19 providing a boost. However, potentially fast-than-expected asset tapering to curb inflationary pressures as a global energy crunch and supply chain bottlenecks continue could slow the pace of the rally.

“The U.S. economy is still on solid footing, but now inflation remains the biggest threat,” Oanda Corp. senior market analyst Edward Moya said in a note, which added that investors are waiting for more earnings reports as well as the final shape of U.S. President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

Congressional Democrats have failed to reach consensus over both the tax and spending sides of a bill to enact the majority of Biden’s agenda. The ability to strike a deal as the week closes is also now in question, with Biden himself telling CNN that he does not expect Congress to pass an increase in corporate tax rates.

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