Asian Shares End On Muted Note

Asian stocks ended on a muted note Wednesday as U.S. Treasury yields continued to rise on expectations that the Federal Reserve might speed up policy tightening to cope with broadening inflationary risks.

Concerns also persisted about the resurgence of coronavirus cases and fresh lockdown measures in Europe and elsewhere.

Chinese and Hong Kong shares ended higher after reports that Chinese Estates Holdings, a long-time supporter of China Evergrande Group, has further cut its stake in the embattled property developer.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index ended up 3.61 points, or 0.1 percent, at 3,592.70, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 33.92 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,685.50.

Japanese shares tumbled as growth-oriented stocks came under selling pressure amid bets that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates sooner than expected.

The Nikkei 225 Index slumped 471.45 points, or 1.6 percent, to 29,302.66, while the broader Topix closed 1.2 percent lower at 2,019.12.

Internet firm Z Holdings and medical platform operator M3 both lost around 5 percent, while heavyweight SoftBank Group gave up 3.3 percent. Automakers bucked the weak trend, with Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors rising 4-5 percent.

Toshiba dropped 1.6 percent after its second-largest shareholder reportedly objected to the conglomerate’s plan to split itself into three companies.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Japan picked up steam in November, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed, with the manufacturing PMI rising to 54.2 from 53.2 in October. The services PMI improved to 52.1 in November from 50.7 in October.

Australian markets ended a choppy session slightly lower as a firmer dollar and rising Treasury yields dragged gold miners and tech stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 11.20 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,399.40, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 16.20 points, or 0.2 percent, at 7,725.50.

Evolution Mining, Newcrest and Northern Star Resources all fell over 1 percent as bullion prices hit a three-week low.

Tech stocks followed their U.S. peers lower, with Wisetech Global losing 2.4 percent. TechnologyOne plunged 8.6 percent after a rating downgrade from Jefferies.

Origin Energy, Woodside Petroleum and Santos rose 1-2 percent as oil extended overnight gains after major oil-consuming economies announced a smaller than expected release from their strategic petroleum reserves.

Seoul stocks ended a tad lower as investors adopted a cautious stance ahead of the central bank’s monetary policy meeting. The benchmark Kospi ended down 3.04 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,994.29 amid expectations the central bank might raise the key interest rate on Thursday.

Business confidence in South Korea was steady in November, the latest survey from the Bank of Korea showed earlier today, with a Business Survey Index (BSI) score of 90 – unchanged from the October reading.

New Zealand shares rose notably as the Reserve Bank raised its official cash rate by 25 basis points as expected, from 0.50 percent to 0.75 percent, citing rising inflationary pressures and easing coronavirus curbs.

The NZX-50 Index climbed 78.26 points, or 0.6 percent, to 12,766.79 after the government announced it would reopen the country to foreign travelers beginning next April.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare jumped 2.2 percent ahead of its first half earnings release due Thursday.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight as financials surged, but a continued increase in treasury yields following Fed Chair Powell’s re-nomination weighed on high-growth tech stocks.

The Nasdaq Composite shed half a percent, while the Dow rose 0.6 percent and the S&P 500 inched up 0.2 percent.

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