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Asian stocks tread water ahead of more economic cues; KOSPI rallies on tech

Published 03/25/2024, 10:39 PM
© Reuters

Investing.com-- Most Asian stocks moved in a tight range on Tuesday, tracking a middling overnight session on Wall Street as anticipation of more key economic readings this week kept sentiment on edge. 

But South Korean stocks were outliers among their peers, rising sharply as heavyweight technology stocks were boosted by persistent hype over artificial intelligence.

Regional markets tracked a negative overnight close on Wall Street, as anticipation of more cues on inflation and the Federal Reserve, coupled with frothy valuations, put U.S. stocks in a holding pattern. U.S. stock index futures rose marginally in Asian trade. 

South Korea’s KOSPI outperforms, chip makers boosted by AI hype 

South Korea’s KOSPI jumped 1.3% to an over two-year high on Tuesday, outperforming its peers on gains in heavyweight chipmaking stocks.

Memory chip maker SK Hynix Inc (KS:000660) surged 5.2% to a record high of 178,200 won, and was the biggest boost to the KOSPI amid increasing optimism over its exposure to the artificial intelligence industry. 

The stock tracked strong overnight gains in its U.S. peer Micron Technology Inc (NASDAQ:MU), on bets that advanced memory chip makers will see bumper demand for high-bandwidth memory (HBM) chips from AI development. SK Hynix currently is the only producer of the most advanced HBM chips in the market. 

South Korean peer Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS:005930) jumped 1.9%.

Japan, Australia markets muted ahead of inflation readings 

Most other Asian stocks kept to a tight range on Tuesday, with the upcoming Good Friday holiday also limiting trading volumes.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.1%, hovering below record highs as a stellar rally in the index now appeared to be running dry, especially as sticky inflation readings pushed up expectations for a more hawkish Bank of Japan. Tokyo consumer price index inflation data is due later this week and will be closely watched for more cues.

Australia’s ASX 200 fell 0.1% after coming close to record highs at the open. But signs of weakening consumer sentiment and anticipation of a monthly CPI reading kept local stocks muted.

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes moved in a flat-to-low range, while gains in some tech stocks helped Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index add 0.4%. A rebound rally in Chinese stocks now appeared to have run out of steam, amid persistent concerns over slowing economic growth in the country. 

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a mildly positive open, with the index set to see some catch-up gains after a long weekend.

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