Asia report: Markets mostly higher, China tech plays lead gains
Stocks were mostly positive at the close in Asia on Wednesday, with Chinese technology plays leading the gains after a raft of companies indicated they would comply with Beijing’s anti-monopoly regulations.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.44% at 29,620.99, as the yen strengthened 0.08% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 108.97.
Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was down 0.71%, fashion firm Fast Retailing lost 1.07%, and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was off 1.48%.
The broader Topix index slipped 0.33% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,952.18.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was ahead 0.6% at 3,416.72, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite rose 1.41% to 2,218.48.
South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.42% to 3,182.38, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was 1.42% firmer at 28,900.83.
Technology shares were on the front foot in the special administrative region, with Alibaba up 1.97%, Baidu rising 3.21%, JD 2.55% stronger, and Tencent also up 2.55%.
Those moves came after a statement from the State Administration for Market Regulation said 12 major China-based tech firms had agreed to comply with antitrust rules.
The pledge came on the back of a massive $2.8bn fine handed down to Alibaba at the weekend, for its anti-competitive online retailing practices.
Seoul’s blue-chip technology stocks were mixed, with Samsung Electronics flat and SK Hynix down 1.79%.
Oil prices were higher at the end of the Asian day, with Brent crude last up 1.68% at $64.74 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 1.75% to $61.23.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.66% at 7,023.10, as the hefty financials subindex managed to rise 0.18%.
The country’s big four banks were mixed, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group down 0.04% and National Australia Bank off 0.26% weaker, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 0.7% and Westpac Banking Corporation managed gains of 0.08%.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was 0.75% firmer at 12,751.38, as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand stood pat on its main policy settings.
The central bank held the official cash rate at its record low 0.25%, and maintained its asset purchase programme at NZD 100bn, with its funding for lending scheme also unchanged.
It did indicate that it was prepared to lower interest rates further if needed, adding that economic activity had been slower over the southern hemisphere summer.
TD Securities senior Asia-Pacific rates strategist Prashant Newnaha said the Reserve Bank met the investment bank’s expectations for the meeting.
“The bank provided an account of the positive and negative developments since its February meeting but was in no haste to make judgments on them,” Newnaha siad.
“The two developments that needed to be addressed, the bank did - [it] acknowledged global economic activity has continued to improve since the February meeting, but it also pointed to the recent slow down in local economic activity.
“Regarding the two surprise developments - the proposed opening of the Trans-Tasman bubble and the government's announcement on housing - the bank refrained from casting any judgement, indicating essentially the passage of time will reveal the actual impact.”
The down under dollars were both stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.57% at AUD 1.3008, and the Kiwi advancing 0.79% to NZD 1.4061.