Asian stocks shrug off Wall St weakness but growth concerns remain

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(Reuters) – Asia stocks opened mostly in positive territory on Wednesday even as global growth concerns and weak U.S. economic data weighed on Wall Street overnight.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.35%, Australian shares were up 0.33%, and Seoul and Taiwan both ticked upwards 0.61% and 0.2%.

Hong Kong’s, Shanghai’s and China’s CSI300 indexes opened marginally higher while Japan’s Nikkei share average was down 0.18%.

On Wall Street, the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.35% and the S&P 500 lost 0.81% as worries returned over surging global inflation cornering central banks into aggressive rate hikes, thereby slowing growth.

“The Fed’s problem right now is that plenty of soft indicators and surveys are pointing to a slowdown,” Steve Englander of Standard Chartered (OTC:SCBFF) Bank said.

“While hard data on activity and inflation do not suggest an imminent slowdown, it is hard to ignore a day when the S&P services PMI, new home sales, and Richmond Fed index all come in below the lowest expectation.”

New home sales in the U.S. fell 16.6% month-on-month in April, the largest decline in nine years, sending U.S. Treasuries yields down to one-month lows as investors turned once again to safety. The benchmark 10-year note was at 2.768% and the two-year yield fell to 2.464%, the lowest since April 19, before rising back to 2.483%.

Gold prices also held their ground at $1,865.39 per ounce, having risen to their highest in two weeks on Tuesday as the safe-haven metal’s appeal was lifted by a weaker U.S. dollar and lower Treasury yields.

Oil prices climbed on the prospect of tight supplies U.S. crude futures stood at $110.45 a barrel, and Brent rose to $114.22.

Social media stocks were left in particularly bad shape on Wall Street after a profit warning from Snap (NYSE:SNAP) sent its shares plunging 43%.