Asian stocks retreated Tuesday on concerns over the impact of China’s Covid restrictions on the world’s second-largest economy as investment banks slashed their forecasts.
A strong rally on Wall Street, where the Dow closed 2.0 percent higher, did not carry over to Asia, and Beijing’s announcement of a fresh raft of measures to stimulate the economy did little to calm nerves.
The package announced on Monday includes more than 140 billion yuan ($21 billion) in additional tax rebates, bringing the total amount of tax relief this year to 2.64 trillion yuan, Xinhua news agency reported following a meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
China’s economy has taken a hit from Beijing’s zero-Covid approach to the pandemic, which has resulted in lengthy lockdowns of major cities and mass testing of millions of people.
Prolonged virus lockdowns have constricted supply chains, dampened demand and stalled manufacturing.
Investment banks UBS Group and JPMorgan Chase cut their China economic growth forecasts due to the impact of the coronavirus strategy.
UBS on Tuesday cut its 2022 GDP growth forecast to 3.0 percent from 4.2 percent while JPMorgan on Monday trimmed its forecast to 3.7 percent from 4.3 percent, Bloomberg News reported.
"The lingering restrictions and lack of clarity on an exit strategy from the current Covid policy will likely dampen corporate and consumer confidence and hinder the release of pent-up demand," UBS economists including Tao Wang wrote in a research note, according to Bloomberg.
China has targeted full-year growth of around 5.5 percent, but data published in April showed that first-quarter growth slowed to 4.8 percent after its economy lost steam in the latter half of last year.
Concerns over the economic fallout from China’s dogged pursuit of a zero-Covid approach and its knock-on impact on supply chains and the wider global economy spooked investors, with Asian markets well into the red on Tuesday.
Tokyo was off 0.5 percent while Hong Kong was down 1.5 percent after the city’s leader Carrie Lam said there would likely be no relaxation of quarantine travel restrictions for the remainder of her term, which ends on June 30.
Shanghai and Seoul were both down 0.8 percent, while Taiwan, Bangkok, Sydney and Manila also retreated. Singapore was one of the few markets to post gains.