The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed but mostly higher on Thursday as investors followed Wall Street’s relatively strong close as Treasury yields dipped in response to mild U.S. consumer inflation data and adequate demand at an auction for the 10-year Treasury notes. The markets were also underpinned after U.S. lawmakers announced the passage of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
In the cash market on Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 29211.64, up 175.08 or +0.60%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 29385.61, up 478.09 or +1.65% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 3013.70, up 55.58 or +1.88%.
In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 3436.83, up 79.09 or +2.36% and in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 finished at 6713.90, down 0.20 or 0.00%.
China Stocks Jump on Better-than-Expected Bank Lending Data, Sino-US Meeting in Focus
China stocks jumped on Thursday, as better-than-expected February bank lending data lifted market sentiment and relieved some policy tightening worries.
Official data showed that new bank lending in China fell less than expected in February from January as the central bank sought to cool credit growth to contain debt risks while maintaining support for ailing small firms.
Sino-U.S. relations re-emerged as another key focus, with some market hopes for de-escalation in the ties between the world’s two largest economies. Chinese diplomats will meet with U.S. officials in Alaska on March 18 and 19, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
South Korea Shares Post Biggest Jump in 2 Weeks as Inflation Worries, Bond Yields Ease
South Korean shares snapped a five-session losing streak posted on Thursday, posting their biggest single-day jump in two weeks, as subdued U.S. consumer price data calmed inflation worries.
“Investors took relief from the U.S. consumer prices data that inflationary pressure will be weaker than expected, which pulled down the bond yields but boosting Asian shares,” said Seo Jung-hun, analyst Samsung Securities.
U.S. consumer prices increased solidly in February, with households paying more for gasoline, but underlying inflation remained tepid.
Further boosting the sentiment was South Korea’s preliminary exports data, which jumped 25.2% from a year earlier during March 1-10 period.
Japanese Shares Gain on Cyclicals Boost, Selling in Some Heavyweights Weighs
Japanese shares inched higher on Thursday as investors picked up beaten-down cyclical stocks while cutting their positions in some index heavyweights.
“Growth-related shares have helped the market, but a sell-off in index heavyweights has also weighed,” said Koichi Kurose, chief strategist, Resona Asset Management.
Chip-related shares fell, with Tokyo Electron declining 1.72% and Advantest losing 0.72%. Both the stocks weighed on the benchmark Nikkei Index, along with medical equipment maker Terumo and drug maker Astellas Pharma, losing 1.24% to 2.31%.
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