Asian Shares Mixed Amid Rate Hike Concerns

Asian stocks ended mixed on Monday as Covid-19 worries and concerns that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in the near future to tackle inflation offset better than expected Chinese GDP data.

Volatility in bond markets and a public holiday in the U.S. also kept investors on edge.

Chinese shares rose as data showed the country’s economy grew faster than expected in the final quarter of 2021 but the growth was still at its weakest pace in one-and-half years, prompting the central bank to unexpectedly cut loan rates.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index gained 20.41 points, or 0.58 percent, to finish at 3,541.67 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 165.29 points, or 0.68 percent, to 24,218.03.

Japanese shares rebounded from a six-week low as chipmakers followed their U.S. peer higher. The Nikkei average climbed 209.24 points, or 0.74 percent, to 28,333.52, after having touched its lowest intraday level since Dec. 6 on Friday. The broader Topix index closed 0.46 percent higher at 1,986.71.

Semiconductor manufacturing company Renesas Electronics Corp rallied 2.1 percent after the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index jumped 2.3 percent on Friday.

Uniqlo store operator Fast Retailing advanced 1.9 percent to extend gains from the previous session after reporting forecast-beating earnings.

Australian markets eked out modest gains, with consumer stocks leading the charge. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 23.40 points, or 0.32 percent, to 7,417.30 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 22.20 points, or 0.29 percent, at 7,739.30.

Wesfarmers jumped 2.6 percent despite the retail conglomerate flagging lower first-half profit. Woolworths rose 1.3 percent, Super Retail Group added 2.6 percent and JB Hi-Fi rallied 3.4 percent.

Strike Energy shares soared 7.5 percent after starting to drill the first well at its South Erregulla gas target in Western Australia over the weekend.

South32 lost 3.1 percent after issuing an update on the progress of its Hermosa zinc-lead-silver project in the United States.

Seoul stocks tumbled to hit a seven-week low as investors fretted about mounting inflationary pressure at home and in the United States. The benchmark Kospi fell 31.82 points, or 1.09 percent, to settle at 2,890.10 – marking the lowest closing since Nov. 30.

The day’s sell-off was also attributed to the upcoming mega initial public offering (IPO) of LG Energy Solution Ltd. SK Hynix, Kia Corp, KB Financial Group, Hyundai Motor and POSCO lost 1-2 percent.

New Zealand shares rose in very light trading amid the Martin Luther King Day holiday in the United States. The benchmark NZX-50 index inched up 16.74 points, or 0.13 percent, to 12,806.90.

Travel booking software company Serko and cinema software firm Vista Group both rose around 2.3 percent while logistics frim Freightways dropped 2 percent after announcing it would release its half year results on Feb 21.

U.S. stocks ended mixed on Friday as investors digested disappointing fourth-quarter results from big U.S. banks and a mixed bag of economic reports on retail sales, consumer sentiment and industrial production.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.6 percent to bounce off a three-month closing low and the S&P 500 inched up marginally while the Dow dipped 0.6 percent.

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