Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday as investors awaited the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting for more clues on the U.S. central bank’s thinking around rates, bond-purchasing and the economic outlook.
Chinese stocks advanced as Beijing stepped up supervision of Chinese firms listed overseas. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose 23.46 points, or 0.66 percent, to 3,553.72 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended down 112.24 points, or 0.40 percent, at 27,960.62.
Japanese shares fell as traders remain spooked by the recent acceleration in the new wave of coronavirus cases, particularly in Olympic city Tokyo. A firmer yen and a steep fall in crude oil futures overnight also weighed on markets.
The Nikkei average dropped 276.26 points, or 0.96 percent, to 28,366.95 while the broader Topix index closed 0.86 percent lower at 1,937.68.
Exporters Sony, Honda Motor, Nissan and Mazda Motor fell 1-3 percent as the yen strengthened on data revealing a lower than expected growth in the U.S. services sector.
Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing lost 1.1 percent and heavyweight SoftBank Group shed 0.6 percent. Oil & gas company Inpex gave up 3.7 percent and Japan Petroleum tumbled 3 percent.
Australian markets rose notably, led by healthcare and technology stocks. Investors shrugged off survey results showing that services sector in the country expanded at a slower pace in June.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 65.10 points, or 0.90 percent, to 7,326.90, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 67.90 points, or 0.90 percent, at 7,599.30.
Healthcare stocks rebounded after two consecutive sessions of losses, with heavyweight CSL gaining 1.4 percent and Resmed adding 3.4 percent. Afterpay surged 4.6 percent and Appen rallied 3.5 percent in the tech sector after the Nasdaq Composite scored another record close overnight.
Challenger soared 8.8 percent after two U.S. companies bought a stake in the investment manager. Gold miner Newcrest rose over 2 percent as gold prices hovered near a three-week high.
Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Beach Energy and Oil Search fell between 1.6 percent and 2.5 percent after crude oil prices tumbled overnight.
Seoul stocks ended lower amid growing concerns over rising delta variant coronavirus cases, with Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum saying the government will consider placing Seoul and its immediate vicinity under its harshest social distancing protocols.
The benchmark Kospi slipped 19.87 points, or 0.60 percent, to settle at 3,285.34 after hitting a record high the previous session on expectations of robust corporate earnings in the April-June period. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics dropped half a percent despite the company flagging a 53 percent jump in Q2 profit.
In economic news, South Korea posted a current account surplus of $10.76 billion in May, the Bank of Korea said earlier today – up from $1.91 billion in April.
New Zealand shares recovered from an early slide to end on a flat note. The benchmark NZX-50 index settled 11.13 points lower at 12,747.80.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare lost 1.6 percent, while A2 Milk climbed 3.8 percent after receiving regulatory approval to take a 75 percent stake in Southland dairy producer Mataura Valley Milk. Auckland International Airport shares advanced 2.4 percent.
U.S. stocks ended broadly lower overnight on inflation fears and concerns about what happens with the Fed tapering. Growth in the services sector slowed in June and oil prices reversed earlier gains, adding to downbeat sentiment.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.2 percent to reach a new record closing high, while the S&P 500 eased 0.2 percent to end a seven-day winning streak and the Dow dropped 0.6 percent.
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