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Asian stocks mildly positive amid tech strength, hot US CPI

Published 03/12/2024, 10:28 PM
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Investing.com-- Most Asian stocks rose slightly on Wednesday as major technology shares tracked a rally in their Wall Street peers, although overall gains were limited as hot U.S. inflation factored into a higher-for-longer outlook for interest rates.

Wall Street indexes provided a positive lead-in to regional markets, with the S&P 500 clocking a record high as hype over artificial intelligence, following positive results from Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), boosted technology stocks. 

But whether these gains would continue remained to be seen, as U.S. stock index futures fell slightly in Asian trade. 

Asian tech stocks rise on AI cheer 

South Korea’s KOSPI index was among the better performers for the day, rising 0.3%. Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS:005930) rose 0.7% after media reports showed the firm planned to push further into AI by developing new, high-speed memory chips.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was flat as strength in tech offset broader losses. Tech heavyweights Baidu (HK:9888), BYD (HK:1211) and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (HK:0981) rose between 2% and 4%, and were among the top gainers on the index.

TSMC (TW:2330) (NYSE:TSM), the world’s largest contract chipmaker and a major NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) supplier, rose 1.3% in Taiwan trade. Strength in tech helped Australia’s ASX 200 rise 0.4%, despite losses in heavyweight banking and mining stocks. 

Sentiment towards tech was boosted by renewed optimism over AI, after cloud computing major Oracle clocked stronger-than-expected earnings and said it was pivoting further into AI, with a joint announcement with Nvidia due later this week. 

But barring the tech sector, broader Asian markets moved in a flat-to-low range, as hotter-than-expected U.S. consumer inflation data presented fewer chances of early rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. 

Concerns over sluggish Chinese economic growth also came back into play, with China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes falling 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively, from four-month highs.

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a mildly positive open on strength in heavyweight tech. The index, along with the BSE Sensex 30, remained in sight of record highs.

Japanese stocks fall as BOJ jitters persist 

Japanese shares continued to pull away from record highs hit last week, with the Nikkei 225 down 0.2%, while the TOPIX shed 0.2%. 

Barring the tech sector, Japanese stocks saw extended losses amid increasing conviction that the Bank of Japan was close to ending its negative interest rates and yield curve control policies.

A Reuters report said the BOJ was preparing to offer guidance on its scope of asset purchases after it winds down its ultra-dovish policies.

The BOJ is set to meet next week, with traders pricing in a rate hike either then or during a late-April meeting. 

Ongoing negotiations between major Japanese employers and employee unions are also expected to yield higher wages- which are a key consideration for the BOJ in raising interest rates. 

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