Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday as China and the United States held talks on economic issues for a third time in two weeks and U.S. President Biden revoked Trump-era bans on TikTok and WeChat.
All eyes were on the U.S. inflation data due later in the day, which could provide hints of the direction of the Fed’s economic diagnosis in the Federal Open Market Committee meeting next week.
Chinese shares gained ground after central bank Governor Yi Gang said inflation is “basically under control”, and monetary policy would be kept steady.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose 19.46 points, or 0.54 percent, to 3,610.86 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended marginally lower at 28,738.88.
Japanese shares rose as the Nikkei reported the government is poised to launch a large-scale economic stimulus package ahead of a planned snap general election in September.
The Nikkei average gained 97.76 points, or 0.34 percent, to settle at 28,958.56, while the broader Topix ended marginally lower at 1,956.73.
Shipping firm Nippon Yusen jumped 3.7 percent as the outlook for the industry remained supported by the reopening of economies in Europe and Asia.
Chugai Pharmaceutical rose over 1 percent and Ono Pharmaceutical advanced 1.5 percent after reports that they will receive government subsidies for their research on COVID-19 drugs. Eisai slumped 7 percent on profit taking after two days of strong gains.
Retail firm Kohnan Shoji soared 20 percent after City Index Eleventh disclosed that it owns more than 5 percent stake in the firm.
Australian markets advanced as the Reserve Bank stressed that inflation is unlikely to reach its target until 2024. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 inched up 32.30 points, or 0.44 percent, to 7,302.50 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 36.80 points, or 0.49 percent, at 7,558.80.
Healthcare stocks gained ground, with Resmed rallying 3.7 percent. Tech shares also surged, with Appen, Wisetech Global and Xero climbing 2-3 percent.
Energy stocks led losses as oil prices slipped on U.S. inventory data showing a surge in gasoline stocks. Oil Search tumbled 3.3 percent and Beach Energy gave up 1.5 percent.
Banks and miners ended on a mixed note. Austal lost 2.2 percent as regulator ASIC launched civil action against the shipbuilder on failure of disclosures.
Seoul stocks rebounded on the four witches’ day of options and futures. The Kospi average edged up 8.46 points, or 0.26 percent, to 3,224.64. Web service giant Kakao rallied 3.5 percent as the regulator gave preliminary approval for its insurance business.
New Zealand shares ended a choppy session lower, with the benchmark NZX-50 index settling down 48.49 points, or 0.39 percent, at 12,518.01. Vista Group shares fell 3.4 percent on profit taking after a 5 percent gain the previous day.
Mainfreight declined 2.3 percent after chairman Bruce Plested sold $75 million in shares to buy more property in Waiheke.
U.S. stocks closed slightly lower overnight amid a lack of market-moving catalysts. The Dow shed 0.4 percent, the S&P 500 eased 0.2 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.1 percent.
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