27 Sep 2021, 13:18

Asian markets start week with gains but eyes on Evergrande

   HONG KONG, Sept 27, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Equity markets rose Monday following
a broadly positive lead from Wall Street, while investors kept a nervous eye
on developments in the crisis at troubled Chinese property giant Evergrande
as it teeters on the brink.

  Hong Kong was among the best performers on bargain-buying after suffering a
blow-out last week, though traders were still none the wiser about whether
Evergrande paid interest on an offshore bond that was due last Thursday.

  While concerns about an economically disastrous collapse of the firm have
abated for now, analysts warned there was a long way to go before markets
were out of the woods.

  Reports at the weekend said Chinese authorities had ordered local housing
chiefs to put the company's cash in ringfenced accounts to make sure it is
used to pay to complete construction projects.

  Observers said the move showed homeowners were taking priority for the
government as it tries to temper social anger.

  However, Beijing has remained largely silent on the crisis, leaving many to
guess what its plans are.

  In early trade, Hong Kong, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Wellington, Manila and
Jakarta were all in positive territory, though Shanghai dipped.

  Tokyo rose, days ahead of a leadership election in Japan's ruling party to
replace Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, with optimism that the winner will
push for a huge new stimulus package for the stuttering economy.

  Still, Shane Oliver, at AMP Capital, warned: "Global fears around contagion
from Evergrande have receded a bit but it's too early to sound the all clear.

  "Shares remain vulnerable to short-term volatility."

  The upbeat start to the week followed gains for the S&P 500 and Dow in New
York, where dealers have taken in stride the Federal Reserve's plan to start
tapering its ultra-loose monetary policy.

  However, there is growing concern about US lawmakers' failure to lift the
debt limit to pay its bills, putting in danger of a default that several
people, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, warn would cause an
economic catastrophe.

  The row comes as Republicans digging in against Joe Biden's multi-trillion-
dollar Build Back Better program that would invest in climate change policy,
lower childcare and education costs for working families and create millions
of jobs.

  The euro was barely moved against the dollar as a general election in
Germany -- Europe's biggest economy -- ended with both main parties battling
to form a government, putting the country into a period of uncertainty and
leaving the question of who will succeed Angela Merkel wide open.

  And bitcoin was sitting around $44,000, having largely recovered over the
weekend from a plunge below $40,000 that came in reaction to news that China
now deemed all financial transactions involving cryptocurrencies illegal,
sounding the death knell for the country's digital trade.

  Meanwhile, Brent oil prices jumped to around three-year highs just short of
$80 a barrel on concerns about tightening supplies as demand recovers owing
to the reopening of economies from the pandemic.

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