Asian Stocks Decline Amidst Widening Monetary Policy Divergence

Asian stocks finished mostly lower on Thursday, tracking Wednesday’s losses on Wall Street. The People’s Bank of China’s status quo on rates and concerns about economic growth in China also dampened sentiment.

The offshore yuan touched a record low versus the dollar earlier in the session. The Japanese Yen also touched the 150 level against the dollar amid the continuing monetary policy divergence between a dovish Bank of Japan and a hawkish Fed.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 9.33 points or 0.3 percent to finish at 3,035.05. The day’s trading ranged between 3,013.69 and 3,070.26. The Shenzhen Component Index also lost 0.6 percent to close at 10,965.33.

The Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 Index erased 250.42 points or 0.9 percent to end trading at 27,006.96. The day’s trading range was between 26,872.45 and 27,092.55.

Shinsei Bank was the biggest gainer with an 8.2 percent surge. J. Front Retailing gained close to 4 percent. Nisshin Seifun Group also added more than 3 percent. Japan Steel Works gained 2.5 percent, and Resona Holdings strengthened 1.8 percent.

Fujikura was the biggest loser with a decline of more than 5 percent. TOTO and Unitika both lost 2.9 percent each. Fuji Electric as well as Seiko Epson declined more than 2 percent.

The Hang Seng Index of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange shed 231.06 points or 1.4 percent from the previous close to finish trading at 16,280.22. The day’s trading range was between a high of 16,452.97 and a low of 16,010.72.

The Korean Stock Exchange’s Kospi Index slid 19.35 points or 0.9 percent to close trading at 2,218.09. The day’s trading range was between 2,200.44 and 2,231.52.

Australia’s S&P/ASX200 Index closed trading at 6,730.70 after losing 69.40 points or 1.0 percent. The day’s trading was between 6,702.10 and 6,800.10.

Battery materials company Novonix added 7.0 percent after it announced that one of its divisions was selected to enter negotiations to receive $150 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Construction materials business Adbri and Woodside Energy Group both rallied more than 6 percent. Life Insurance business Challenger and Chalice Mining followed with gains of more than 4 percent.

Copper miner Sandfire Resources was the biggest laggard with a 13 percent plunge after its quarterly results update. Technology business Megaport, which recently provided its first quarter update, also extended losses with a 12 percent decline.

Gold miners St Barbara and Evolution Mining shed 8 percent each. Global fintech company Block also plunged close to 8 percent.

The NZX 50 Index of the New Zealand Stock Exchange shed 84.62 points or 0.8 percent to close at 10,832.03. Trading ranged between 10,810.98 and 10,921.64.

Software business Serko was the top gainer with a 2.4 percent rally, closely followed by Auckland International Airport, which added 2.2 percent after it raised its 2023 guidance. Polymer business Skellerup Holdings, banking business Heartland Group Holdings and IT company Pushpay Holdings also added more than 1 percent.

Electronic components maker EROAD plunged more than 5 percent. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare also shed 4.4 percent. Logistics business Freightways, agribusiness Scales Corporation and building materials business Fletcher Building all eased more than 3 percent.

The Wall Street also closed with losses on Wednesday amidst worries over inflation and corporate earnings guidance. Nasdaq Composite shed 0.9 percent to close at 10,680.51, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.3 percent to finish trading at 30,423.81.

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