Asian Stocks Tread Diverse Tracks

Major Asian stock markets tread a mixed path on Wednesday, with Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index recording an all-time high and Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index gaining half a percent, while weakness was visible in Hong Kong and mainland China.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index shed 27.58 points or 0.8 percent to close at 3,597.14. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 170.38 points or 0.6 percent to 29,297.62.

Coronavirus flare-ups in certain parts of the country and likely PBoC measures to halt speculative trading in yuan offset the positive sentiment surrounding five-month high factory growth.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index added 131.80 points or 0.5 percent to close at 28,946.14 as investors weighed economic rebound hopes against pandemic pains.

Japan Steel works led the rally with a 5.8 percent advance. Kyowa Hakko Kirin, which announced a deal with Amgen for the development of a treatment for atopic dermatitis, rose 3.6 percent. JTEKT Corporation also added more than 3 percent. Oji Paper declined by 3.23 percent.

The Australian benchmark S&P ASX 200 Index closed at an all-time high of 7,217.80, up 75.20 points or 1.1 percent, as the first quarter growth figure of 1.8 percent surpassed expectations of 1.5 percent.

The positive sentiment surrounding the status quo on the record low cash rate of 0.1 percent coupled with the assurance of low rates until 2024 also supported the rally.

Mining stock New Hope Corporation Ltd. spiked by 7.38 percent, closely followed by Syrah Resources advancing 7.35. However, Megaport Ltd. declined by 4.7 percent and both Nanosonics Ltd. and Regis Resources declined more than 3 percent, missing the advance.

South Korea’s KOSPI inched up 2.36 points or 0.1 percent to close at 3224.23 against the backdrop of the consumer price index rising to 2.6 percent, a surge in exports, and drop in new coronavirus cases. The day’s trading range was tight between 3,216 and 3,241.

The NZX 50 Index of the New Zealand Stock Exchange fell 22.42 points or 0.2 percent to end trade at 12440.05. Kathmandu Holdings Ltd., New Zealand Exchange, Air New Zealand Ltd., and Auckland International Airport bucked the weakness and gained more than 2 percent.

Healthcare devices maker Fisher Paykel Healthcare Ltd. dropped 3.3 percent. Rest home operator Ryman Healthcare Ltd. trailed yesterday’s levels by 2.2 percent. Metro Performance Glass and Port of Tauranga also declined more than 2 percent.

Yesterday, Wall Street had witnessed waning momentum, with the Nasdaq shedding 0.2 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining just 0.1 percent, exposing the cautious undertone that emerged as more and more central bankers traversed the taper-talk trajectory.

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