Asian stocks fall as China reports 4.8% first-quarter growth

BANGKOK (AP) — Stocks fell in Asia after China reported Monday that its economy grew at an annual rate of 4.8% in January-March.

Benchmarks fell in Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai. Hong Kong and Sydney were closed for the holidays. Oil prices rose and US futures fell.

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

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

Authorities have ordered lockdowns in some major cities, including Shanghai, to battle the country’s worst coronavirus outbreaks since it erupted into a pandemic in March 2020. But the biggest impact of the lockdowns will likely be felt during the current quarter.

“Lockdowns will affect data for the whole month of April, and possibly even longer as more cities also adopt measures to contain COVID,” ING Economics researchers said in a note. .

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2% to 3,203.69. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 1.8% to 26,596.66 while Seoul’s Kospi edged down 0.2% to 2,691.92. Bangkok and most other regional markets were down, while Jakarta was up.

As trading resumes in many global markets on Monday, attention is focused on Ukraine, where Ukrainian fighters were resisting the capture of their shattered city of Mariupol after a 7-week siege, ignoring an ultimatum from Russia.

The fall of Mariupol would be Moscow’s biggest victory in the war and free up troops to take part in a potentially decisive battle for control of Ukraine’s industrial east.

Ukraine was sending top officials to Washington for this week’s spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank amid dire warnings about the impact of the Russian invasion on the global economy.

A World Bank official said on Friday that Ukraine’s prime minister, finance minister and central bank governor were coming. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the visit had not been officially announced.

The conflict has pushed up the prices of oil and other commodities, making it harder for policymakers trying to recover from the pandemic while curbing inflation that is at 40-year highs in many countries.

Central banks are raising interest rates that had remained at historic lows to counter the devastation of the pandemic to curb rising prices. But it can also discourage a recovery in the spending and investment needed to drive the recovery.

“This morning, another rise in oil prices is likely to stoke inflation fears, and the rate hike raises concerns about the significant Fed action needed to quell those fears,” said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management. in a comment.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 92 cents to $107.87 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose $2.70 to $106.95 a barrel on Thursday, before closing for Good Friday.

Brent crude, the pricing basis for international oils, rose $1.09 to $112.79 a barrel.

In currency trading, the dollar rose to 126.57 Japanese yen from 126.44 yen on Friday night. The euro fell to $1.0803 from $1.0807.

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AP Business Writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed.

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