Asia Markets

Asian stocks close mixed as recent China bounce wavers

Key Points
  • Asian markets closed mixed on Wednesday, with Japan and Hong Kong tracking gains seen stateside.
  • China's plans to turn to more vigorous fiscal policy were cheered by investors. 
  • U.S. President Donald Trump doubled down on the efficacy of tariffs ahead of his meeting with EU officials.

Asian markets closed mixed on Wednesday, with benchmarks in Japan and Hong Kong tracking higher after Wall Street mostly advanced on the back of strong corporate results overnight.

The closed higher by 0.46 percent, or 103.77 points, at 22,614.25, with steelmakers and other metal stocks among the best-performing sectors: JFE Holdings rose 2.98 percent and Nisshin Steel rallied 2.21 percent. Despite broader gains, Mitsubishi Motors dropped 2.91 percent as investors took profit after the automaker reported expectation-topping earnings in the previous session.

Mainland China stocks finished the session near breakeven, with the Shanghai Composite closing lower by 0.04 percent at 2,904.37, snapping a recent winning streak which saw three consecutive sessions of gains. The smaller Shenzhen Composite inched lower by 0.07 percent to 1,624.72.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index climbed 1.01 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN, with the index's overall gains led by the advance in services and energy.

In Seoul, the Kospi slipped 0.31 percent to 2,273.03 after reversing a rise seen earlier as major technology stocks turned lower. Elsewhere, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.29 percent to finish at 6,247.60 as declines in health care and consumer staples led the move lower.

MSCI's index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan advanced 0.36 percent in Asia afternoon trade.

Investors cheered Beijing's announcement earlier this week that it would turn to more vigorous fiscal policy, including corporate tax cuts, Reuters reported, with the changes coming in the wake of the U.S.-China trade war. Chinese equities were given a boost in the last session on the back of those policy changes, with the Shanghai Composite leading the advance in major Asian markets in the previous session.

"As compared to Beijing’s actions in 2008/9, when it unleashed a 4 trillion yuan spending package, China’s government is now seeking to address growth concerns with a chisel instead of a sledgehammer," Tai Hui, chief market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said in a note.

"Recent market reaction seems to welcome this development ... The announcement could potentially be the catalyst needed to support investor sentiment and prompt them to re-engage in the near term."

Trade rumblings

On the trade front, the Trump administration intends to offer as much as $12 billion in aid to support farmers affected by tariffs in ongoing disputes between the U.S. and its trading partners.

U.S. tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports took effect earlier this month and were met with retaliatory measures from Beijing that targeted the same value of U.S. goods, including American soybeans among other products.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a Twitter post earlier on Tuesday that "Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that - and everybody’s talking!"

That came ahead of his meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday U.S. time, with talks expected to be focused on American tariffs on steel and aluminum and other trade-related issues.

In currencies, the dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of peers, slipped slightly to 94.486 while the euro was just a touch firmer at $1.1694 in the lead up to the meeting.

Against the yen, the dollar was mostly steady at 111.17 at 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN.

The mixed session in Asia also came on the back of U.S. stocks mostly rising overnight on the release of strong corporate earnings, with Google-parent Alphabet jumping 3.9 percent after the company reported expectations-topping results after the market close on Monday.

Among individual movers, LG Display fell 4.66 percent after the company said it expected the LCD industry to go through "restructuring," Reuters said. The manufacturer had earlier gained after reporting a smaller-than-expected loss of 228 billion won ($202.2 million) in the morning.

Meanwhile, SK Engineering and Construction shareholder companies saw their stocks drop after a dam the construction company was building in Laos collapsed. Hundreds of people are currently missing in the wake of the accident, Reuters reported. SK Holdings dropped 5.11 percent and SK Discovery lost 11.89 percent.

Elsewhere, shares of Changsheng Bio-technology were halted from trade on Wednesday, with the suspension expected to lift on Thursday, according to Reuters. The pharmaceuticals company has seen its stock plunge amid a vaccine scandal happening in China over safety standards violations.