Marketmind: Alibaba fires up market mood

FILE PHOTO: World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Anshuman Daga

Just as investor angst over U.S. and European banking troubles eases, the potential end of China’s multi-year regulatory crackdown on the tech sector is also cheering up markets.

An unprecedented revamp of Chinese tech conglomerate Alibaba Group, which analysts believe to have the blessings of local regulators, pushed up Alibaba’s U.S.-listed stock, and then its Hong Kong shares on Wednesday.

Companies in China’s internet, private education and property sectors have lost billions of dollars in market value in recent years as the country’s regulators cracked down on their operations.

(GRAPHIC: Alibaba’s struggles-

Although a lacklustre 0.6% rise in Asia’s main stock market gauge, led by Hong Kong tech names, shows that animal spirits haven’t returned yet, there’s hope for investors who have been left licking their wounds from recent market declines, especially in bank and tech stocks.

Global investor confidence remains fragile, with the European Central Bank (ECB) saying that recent volatility highlights the need for greater regulatory scrutiny.

As U.S. banking contagion worries ebb, some investors are scouting for shares of fundamentally strong regional lenders that were swept up in this month’s epic sell-off.

Overnight, a survey showed that U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly increased in March despite recent financial market turmoil, but Americans still expect inflation to remain elevated over the next year.

Bloomberg News reported that Credit Suisse Group investors are being urged to vote against a share-based transformation award for executives and ratifying the actions of the board of directors and management at the upcoming annual general meeting.

Meanwhile, U.S. prosecutors unveiled a new indictment against Sam Bankman-Fried, accusing the founder of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange of paying a $40 million bribe to Chinese officials so they would unfreeze his hedge fund’s accounts.

And in Asia, geopolitical tensions are heating up with China threatening to retaliate if U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen during her planned transit of the United States, saying any such move would be a “provocation”.

Key developments that could influence markets on Wednesday:

European economic data: Spain flash March CPI, Germany March CPI, Euro zone March business/consumer sentiment

Speakers: ECB board member Isabel Schnabel

(Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Edmund Klamann)