Asian Shares Mixed After Fed Minutes
Asian stocks ended Thursday’s session on a mixed note after the FOMC meeting minutes suggested the U.S. central bank has begun debating whether to normalize monetary policy.
Chinese shares recoupled losses to end on a flat note as the country’s central bank kept its benchmark lending rates unchanged, as widely expected. The one-year loan prime rate was maintained at 3.85 percent and the five-year loan prime rate was kept unchanged at 4.65 percent.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite index ended down 4.02 points, or 0.11 percent, at 3,506.94 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slid half a percent to close at 28,450.29.
Japanese shares rose slightly after the release of positive data. Core machinery orders rose 3.7 percent in March from the previous month, while the country’s exports grew the most since 2010 in April, separate reports showed.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Wednesday warned that downward pressure on economic activities due to the ongoing pandemic could grow stronger due to uncertainty over the pace of the country’s vaccination rollout.
The Nikkei average inched up 53.80 points, or 0.19 percent, to 28,098.25 as gains by chip-related stocks offset losses in cyclical shares. The broader Topix index settled marginally higher at 1,895.92.
Tokyo Electron rose over 2 percent and Advantest climbed 3.5 percent in the tech sector. Insurer Sompo Holdings fell 2.7 percent after flagging a 12.3 percent decline for its annual net profit forecast.
Nippon Steel gave up 4.8 percent and JFE Holdings lost 6 percent after rebar and hot-rolled coil both resumed falls from record highs.
Heavyweight Fast Retailing dropped half a percent after reports that the U.S. blocked a shipment from its Uniqlo brand in January on the back of concerns its supply chain has ties to forced labor in Xinjiang, China.
Australian markets rebounded from the heavy sell-off in the previous session, with banks and technology stocks leading the surge. Investors shrugged off mixed employment data, which showed employers cut jobs in April.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 87.90 points, or 1.27 percent, to 7,019.60, after having fallen 1.9 percent in the previous session. The broader All Ordinaries index ended up 86.90 points, or 1.21 percent, at 7,252.60.
The big four banks rose 1-3 percent. Tech stocks surged, with artificial intelligence firm Appen rising 4.9 percent to extend gains for a second session after announcing restructuring plans. Buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay soared 7.7 percent.
Payments solutions provider EML Payments rallied 3.9 percent after plunging nearly 50 percent the previous day on fears of regulatory curbs on its Irish unit.
Qantas Airways jumped 3.5 percent as the carrier laid out more cost-cutting measures in an effort to weather the COVID-19 crisis. Mining and energy stocks finished broadly lower after a drop in commodity prices.
Seoul stocks ended lower on worries about fresh COVID-19 curbs in Asia and talk of tapering. The benchmark Kospi dipped 10.77 points, or 0.34 percent, to 3,162.28 amid foreign and institutional selling.
Steelmaker POSCO slumped 5.3 percent and automaker Hyundai Motor fell 2.8 percent while chemical firm LG Chem advanced 2.5 percent and chipmaker SK Hynix added 1.2 percent.
New Zealand shares bounced back after the government unveiled a big-spending budget aimed at stimulating the coronavirus-hit economy. The benchmark NZX-50 index rallied 155.67 points, or 1.27 percent, to 12,437.17, after having fallen 1 percent on Wednesday.
A2 Milk Company rose 2.9 percent on bargain hunting after losing as much as 26 percent so far this month. Synlait Milk, whose biggest customer is A2, surged 6.3 percent.
U.S. stocks ended lower overnight as Treasury yields rose following the release of Fed’s April meeting minutes. Some officials said talking about tapering might be needed at an upcoming meeting if the economy continues to show signs of recovery and inflation keeps trending higher.
The Dow plunged more than 580 points before ending half a percent lower and the S&P 500 dipped 0.3 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index ended flat with a negative bias.
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