(March 8): Chinese tech giants led shares in Asian peers lower after hawkish comments from the US Federal Reserve (Fed) stoked concerns for the rate-sensitive sector.
The Hang Seng Tech Index slid as much as 3.9%, the most in a month, with Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd each falling around 3% in Hong Kong. The shares tracked losses in the Nasdaq 100 overnight as Fed chair Jerome Powell’s testimony before Congress dented risk appetite.
Powell said the central bank is likely to lift interest rates higher and potentially faster than previously expected. Some market watchers are now expecting a 50-basis-point interest rate hike during the Fed’s policy meeting later this month.
“Maybe macro concerns take the spotlight now, like geopolitics and the Fed, but over time investors cannot ignore the earnings,” said Vey-Sern Ling, the managing director of Union Bancaire Privee. Most tech companies are beating analyst estimates and giving positive outlooks, he said.
Elsewhere, the region’s big chipmakers were also weak on Powell’s comments, with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co down about 1% each. Japanese tech stocks were supported by a weaker yen, though Alibaba investor SoftBank Group Corp slipped more than 1%.
A stellar rally in Chinese tech stocks in the three months through January petered out as growth concerns outweighed earnings beats by Alibaba and others. The Hang Seng tech gauge has slumped 17% from its recent peak, reflecting caution after outsized gains fuelled by hopes for reopening.
The sell-off on Wednesday (March 8) also comes as China holds its National People’s Congress, a key focus of which is Beijing’s tech trade spat with the US. In other upcoming events for the sector, JD.com Inc is due to report results on Thursday, and Tencent on March 22.