Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday despite a continued pullback in treasury yields, reflecting easing worries about inflation after several Federal Reserve officials reiterated that any inflation will be transitory and the Fed will maintain its current dovish monetary policy stance.
China’s Shanghai Composite index rose 12.02 points, or 0.34 percent, to 3,593.36 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended up 255.15 points, or 0.88 percent, at 29,166.01.
Japanese shares eked out modest gains despite lingering concerns over rising coronavirus infection rates, caused by highly contagious variants of the virus and the slow vaccine roll out.
The Nikkei average edged up 88.21 points, or 0.31 percent, to 28,642.19, while the broader Topix index closed marginally higher at 1,920.67. ANA, Screen Holdings, Panasonic, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Keisei Electric Railway gained 3-5 percent.
Steelmakers succumbed to profit taking after China signaled it would focus on efforts to cool soaring raw material prices. Nippon Steel tumbled 3.5 percent and Kobe Steel lost 3.3 percent.
Australian markets fell slightly to snap a four-day winning streak as a cluster of COVID-19 cases grew in Victoria, sparking fears of a snap lockdown the country second-most populous state.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 22.70 points, or 0.32 percent, to 7,092.50 after closing at a two-week high the previous day. The broader All Ordinaries index ended down 17.50 points, or 0.24 percent, at 7,331.60.
Miners BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto all fell over 2 percent as the surge across commodity prices has eased amid China’s warning against hoarding and speculation.
Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum and Santos lost around 1 percent as oil prices slipped on worries that a possible return of Iranian supply could cause a glut. Beach Energy shed 1.6 percent and Worley gave up 1.8 percent.
Gold miners surged as bullion prices scaled a more than four-month peak, helped by a weaker dollar and a retreat in U.S. Treasury yields. Evolution Mining, Northern Star Resources and Regis Resources climbed 2-3 percent.
Tech stocks also finished broadly higher, with WiseTech Global rallying 3.1 percent.
In economic news, the value of total construction work done in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 2.4 percent sequentially in the first three months of 2021, official data showed.
Seoul stocks swung between gains and losses before finishing marginally lower for the day. The benchmark Kospi ended down 2.89 points at 3,168.43 as valuation concerns offset investor optimism over a fast economic recovery. Chemical firm LG Chem led declines to end 6.7 percent lower.
Business confidence in South Korea was stable in May, the latest survey from the Bank of Korea showed today with a score of 96.0 – unchanged from the April reading.
New Zealand shares ended little changed and the kiwi dollar rose sharply after a hawkish surprise from the country’s central bank.
After holding its official cash rate at 0.25 percent in a widely expected decision, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it would maintain stimulatory monetary policy settings until its inflation and employment targets are achieved. The benchmark NZX-50 index ended up 6.25 points at 12,347.44.
Markets in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia were closed for Vesak Day.
U.S. stocks fluctuated before ending slightly lower overnight as disappointing consumer confidence and housing sales readings dented sentiment.
The Dow and the S&P 500 slipped around 0.2 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite finished marginally lower.
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