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Stocks in Asia mixed as investors digest Fed minutes; Lenovo soars more than 12 percent

Key Points
  • Stocks in major Asian stock markets were mixed.
  • Hong Kong-listed shares of computer maker Lenovo surged more than 12 percent after the company announced a return to profit in the third quarter, surpassing market expectations.
  • Minutes from the Fed's January meeting highlighted downside risks, as well as extensive discussion of market conditions.

Stocks in Asia were mixed on Thursday following an earlier slip in the morning as traders digest a release from the Federal Reserve.

Mainland Chinese shares saw losses on the day after a turbulent session which saw stocks swinging between positive and negative territory. The Shanghai composite slipped 0.34 percent to close at 2,751.80 while the Shenzhen component declined 0.256 percent to finish its trading day at 8,451.71. The Shenzhen composite shed 0.269 percent to close at 1,444.35.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose around 0.3 percent in its final hour of trading.

Hong Kong-listed shares of computer maker Lenovo surged more than 12 percent after the company announced a return to profit in the third quarter, surpassing market expectations. Profit for the quarter was $233 million, versus a loss of $289 million in the same period a year earlier when the world's largest personal computer maker by shipments took a one-off hit, following U.S. tax reform.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.15 percent to close at 21,464.23 while the Topix ended its trading day largely flat at 1,613.50. Shares of Japanese conglomerate Softbank Group, however, slipped 1.63 percent.

The Kospi in South Korea closed slightly lower at 2,228.66, with shares of Samsung Electronics rising 0.11 percent after the company unveiled its new series of Galaxy smartphones.

The in Australia rose 0.7 percent to close at 6,139.20 as the heavily weighted financial subindex added about 1.5 percent. Shares of the country's so-called Big Four banks gained: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group advanced 1.83 percent, Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 2.01 percent, Westpac gained 1.32 percent and National Australia Bank edged up 0.69 percent.

The ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and China remain the "main focus" for markets and are likely to "provide the next catalyst for a strong move in sentiment," Rakuten Securities Australia said in a morning note.

"Hopes that the US will extent the March 1 tariff deadline are growing and any confirmation of this should provide a relief rally across stocks and risk trades with implementation probably leading to a strong sell off," they said.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Fed minutes

Overnight on Wall Street, the Nasdaq Composite closed just above the flatline at 7,489.07, notching its eighth consecutive gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 63.12 points to close at 25,954.44 and the rose 0.2 percent to finish at 2,784.70.

The moves followed the release of minutes from the Fed's January meeting, which highlighted downside risks, including "the possibilities of a sharper-than-expected slowdown in global economic growth, particularly in China and Europe, a rapid waning of fiscal policy stimulus, or a further tightening of financial market conditions."

The minutes showed extensive discussion of market conditions, particularly on the emphasis that Fed actions were having on prices of risky assets like stocks and corporate bonds.

The Fed also judged that a "patient" approach to interest rate hikes would be prudent as it continued to weigh various headwinds to growth.

"We think the Fed is in pause, it's a lot more data-sensitive than it has been before," Andrew Harmstone, head of global balanced risk control at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Thursday. "Arguably ... there may be some regret as to having raised interest rates in December."

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.592 after seeing an earlier session high of 96.657.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.81 against the dollar after touching an earlier session high of 110.58. The Australian dollar was at $0.7130 after seeing an earlier session high of $0.7207.

The traded at 6.7069 against the greenback while its offshore counterpart changed hands at 6.7058.

Oil prices rose in the afternoon of Asian trade, as the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract added 0.22 percent to $67.23 per barrel. The U.S. crude futures contract gained 0.47 percent to $57.43 per barrel.

— Reuters and CNBC's Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

Correction: This article was revised to reflect that the Australian dollar saw an earlier session high of $0.7207.