Asian Shares Sink as China Says First Quarter Growth at 4.8 Percent

Asian Shares Sink as China Says First Quarter Growth at 4.8 Percent thumbnail

BANGKOK—Shares were mostly lower in Asia and U.S. futures fell after China reported Monday that its economy expanded at a 4.8 percent annual pace in January-March.

Benchmarks fell in Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, and Shanghai. Seoul edged higher. Markets in Europe and in Hong Kong and Sydney were closed for holidays.

Wall Street benchmarks declined last week before closing for the Easter holiday.

China’s growth has fallen well below the official target of 5.5 percent for 2022. In quarterly terms, the economy grew 1.3 percent in the first quarter, compared with 1.4 percent in the last quarter of 2021.

Authorities have ordered shutdowns in some major cities including Shanghai to battle the country’s outbreaks of coronavirus since it flared into a pandemic in March 2020. But the biggest impact of the shutdowns will likely be seen in the current quarter.

The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.5 percent to 3,195.52. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index lost 1.1 percent to 26,799.71 while the Kospi in Seoul edged 0.1 percent lower, to 2,693.21. India’s Sensex dropped 2.2 percent.

The future for the S&P 500 lost 0.4 percent and that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2 percent.

As trading resumed Monday in some world markets, attention was focused on Ukraine, where Ukrainian fighters were holding out against a capture of their shattered city of Mariupol after a 7-week siege.

Ukraine was sending top officials to Washington for this week’s spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The conflict has pushed prices for oil and other commodities sharply higher, compounding difficulties for policy makers trying to nurse along recoveries from the pandemic while also tamping down inflation that is at 40-year highs in many countries.

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Central banks are raising interest rates that had stayed at record low levels to counter the devastation of the pandemic to help rein in price increases. But that can also discourage a revival in spending and investment needed to drive recoveries.

U.S. benchmark crude oil reversed early gains Monday, shedding 52 cents to $106.43 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose $2.70 to $106.95 per barrel on Thursday, before closing for Good Friday.

Brent crude, the basis for pricing international oils gave up 49 cents to $111.21 per barrel.

In currency trading, the dollar rose to 126.60 Japanese yen from 126.44 yen late Friday. The euro fell to $1.0794 from $1.0807.

By Elaine Kurtenbach

The Associated Press


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