Asian stocks ended Thursday’s session on a mixed note, as fears of a global economic slowdown and uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates largely offset optimism over easing of strict Covid containment measures in China.
Markets also keenly awaited U.S. inflation data as well as the outcome of the Fed and ECB policy meetings next week for further clues on the direction of monetary policy.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index finished marginally lower at 3,197.35, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index soared 3.4 percent to 19,450.23 on reports the city is considering further easing of Covid measures, including scrapping the outdoor mask mandate and shortening the isolation period for people who test positive for the virus.
Japanese shares closed near a one-month low on concerns about the impact of Fed policy on growth and corporate earnings.
Traders also reacted to data showing that Japan’s economy contracted slower than expected in the third quarter and the country’s current account unexpectedly turned to a deficit in October.
The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 0.4 percent to 27,574.43, marking its lowest close since November 10. The broader Topix ended 0.4 percent lower at 1,941.50.
Tokyo Electron, Orix, Sony, Konami Holdings and Nidec fell 1-3 percent. SoftBank Group rallied 2.2 percent after a report that its billionaire chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son has raised his stake in the firm to 34 percent, taking him closer to a point where he could bid to take the conglomerate private.
Seoul shares fell for a fifth consecutive session on U.S. rate hike worries. The Kospi slid 0.5 percent to settle at 2,371.08.
Australian markets extended losses for a third straight session as falling commodity prices on worries about a global recession weighed on the mining and energy sectors. Gold miners advanced after a more than 1 percent spike in gold prices overnight.
Link Administration Holdings shares crashed as much as 10 percent before closing 1.5 percent lower at A$3.33. The company said it had ended talks with Canada’s Dye & Durham Ltd. to sell its corporate markets and banking and credit management businesses for A$1.27 billion.
Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index finished marginally higher at 11,617.14. Air New Zealand shares rose nearly 2 percent after the country’s flagship carrier increased its earnings forecast for the first half of fiscal 2023.
U.S. stocks closed mostly lower overnight as investors pondered the outlook for interest rates and the economy.
The S&P 500 slipped 0.2 percent to extend losses for the fifth straight session and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped half a percent, while the Dow ended nearly unchanged.
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