Asian Shares Retreat As Inflation Worries Weigh

Asian stocks were subdued in thin holiday trade on Monday, as higher oil prices and Treasury yields stoked worries about inflation and investors awaited the release of Chinese GDP data as well as monthly activity figures for March.

The Japanese yen reversed losses against the dollar and gold hovered near a five-week high, while oil prices climbed on concerns about tighter supply after Libya’s National Oil Corporation announced Sunday the closure of production at a major oil field in the country’s south.

Ahead of Easter weekend holidays, both Brent and WTI contracts gained more than 2.5 percent on Thursday on news that the European Union might phase in a ban on Russian oil imports.

U.S. natural gas prices hit a more than 13-year high amid the likelihood of a de facto European Union embargo on Russian gas and the threat of some curbs on crude in Europe’s next sanctions package.

Japan’s Nikkei was down as much as 1.8 percent on concerns over Fed’s aggressive tightening in the coming months. Seoul stocks edged up slightly, reversing earlier losses.

China’s Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.8 percent as investors await first-quarter GDP data for hints about the economic damage from Covid lockdowns.

The People’s Bank of China reduced the reserve requirement ratio for most banks by 25 basis points on Friday, lower than what economists had expected.

Meanwhile, Shanghai has reported its first death due to Covid-19 ever since lockdown was re-imposed to contain the outbreak of the deadly virus in the city.

Markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong were closed for Easter holidays.

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