Asian stocks edge lower; Nikkei turns positive after BOJ hikes rates

Published 03/18/2024, 10:19 PM
© Reuters.
- Most Asian stocks fell on Tuesday amid persistent anxiety over an upcoming Federal Reserve meeting, while Japan's Nikkei 225 pared early losses after the Bank of Japan hiked interest rates but maintained a dovish stance.

Regional markets took little cheer from a positive overnight close on Wall Street, with U.S. stock index futures falling in Asian trade as a mild recovery in technology ran dry. 

Anticipation of potentially hawkish signals from the Fed remained a key point of concern for markets. The bank is expected to keep rates unchanged on Wednesday, but could potentially wax hawkish in the face of sticky inflation.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 pares losses after historic BOJ move

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.3%, while the broader TOPIX  jumped 0.6% after paring a bulk of their earlier losses.

The BOJ hiked interest rates by 0.1% its first such move in 17 years, while also signaling an end to its yield curve control policies, particularly its asset purchases from open markets.

But the central bank still signaled that Japanese monetary conditions will remain largely accommodative amid persistent concerns over weakness in the Japanese economy. 

Tuesday's move, while historic, also reflects only marginal tightening in monetary policy, leaving in place a bulk of the liquidity enjoyed by Japanese markets for nearly a decade.

Other regional central bank meetings also yielded positive results. Australia’s ASX 200 rose 0.3% after the Reserve Bank of Australia kept interest rates steady, but struck a less hawkish chord than markets were expecting. The RBA no longer warned that it will raise interest rates further.

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell 0.3% each as investors digested mixed economic data from the prior session, while losses in technology stocks dragged Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down 1.2%. 

A decision from the People’s Bank of China on its benchmark loan prime rate is also due this week, with the PBOC expected to leave the rate unchanged on Wednesday. 

India's Nifty 50 index fell 0.5% as it struggled to recover from a bruising tumble off record highs, with heavyweight tech stocks tracking weakness in their global peers.

Tech, AI stocks fall despite Nvidia’s new chip reveal

Major Asian technology stocks, particularly those with exposure to artificial intelligence, retreated on Tuesday, tracking an aftermarket drop in AI darling NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA), after the firm unveiled its latest line of AI chips. Nvidia lost nearly 2% in aftermarket trade. 

SK Hynix Inc (KS:000660) and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS:005930) slid nearly 4% and 1.4%, respectively, dragging South Korea’s KOSPI down more than 1%.

In Japan, Advantest Corp. (TYO:6857), which is an Nvidia supplier, fell 2.7%, while Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TYO:8035)n, the country’s most valuable chipmaker, shed 0.2%. 

Nvidia unveiled its latest line of AI chips, called Blackwell, at a developer conference on Monday. But the AI darling offered no cues on pricing of the chips.

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