Asia Markets

Asia Pacific shares mostly rise as growth in South Korea continues to slow

Key Points
  • Asia Pacific shares mostly rise in the afternoon.
  • South Korea's economy slowed in the third quarter, growing at 0.4%, according to preliminary central bank estimates.
  • Chip giant SK Hynix and automaker Hyundai Motor reported third-quarter earnings.
  • Over in Indonesia, its central bank is expected to make its rate decision.

Asia Pacific shares mostly rose in the afternoon, as latest figures showed that South Korea's economy continued to slow. Investors, meanwhile, look ahead to the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday.

Mainland Chinese markets moved to a subdued finish. The Shanghai composite closed flat to 2,940.92, while the Shenzhen composite declined 0.21% to 1,615.96.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index bucked the trend, jumping 0.77% in its final hour of trade.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.31% to close at 6,693.60. Oil stocks gained, with Santos jumping 2.28%, and Woodside Petroleum up 2.36%.

Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 0.55% to 22,750.60. In South Korea, the Kospi edged up 0.24% to close at 2,085.66.

Chip giant SK Hynix posted third-quarter operating profit of 473 billion won ($405 million) — a 93% plunge as compared to the previous year's quarter, as memory chip prices continue to fall. That, however, beat Refinitiv estimates of 418 billion won.

Its shares closed higher by 2.96%.

Hyundai Motor also reported third-quarter earnings. Its net profit rose 59% to 427 billion won ($364.8 million) — widely missing Refinitiv estimates of $684 billion. Its shares rose 0.83% by the close.

The country also reported its gross domestic product numbers on Thursday. South Korea's economy slowed in the third quarter, growing at 0.4%, according to preliminary estimates by its central bank.

South Korea's economy has been slowing this year, hit by the U.S.-China trade war. In October, it cut its interest rate for the second time in three months to prop up growth.

Overall, MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.41% in the afternoon.

Over in Indonesia, its central bank is expected to make its rate decision. Analysts foresee that Bank Indonesia will cut rates for the fourth time this year.

"There is increasingly need to support softening growth. Exports remain sluggish on the back of slowing global growth, which dampens commodities prices," wrote Mizuho Bank's Zhu Huani in a note. She added that the central bank may also want to spur demand for loans, which has seen limited growth.

Investors will also await the European Central Bank's (ECB) meeting, set to take place on Thursday. It's the final one for current President Mario Draghi, who will end his eight-year term at the ECB at the end of the month. Expectations are low for any new policy announcements Thursday — six weeks after the central bank unveiled a massive stimulus package.

Brexit developments continued to dominate overnight. Media reports in the U.K. suggest that Downing Street will push for an election if the Brexit deadline is delayed until the end of January next year.

Meanwhile, the EU has to decide if it would grant the extension. One EU official, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, told CNBC that EU leaders could decide on the delay as early as Thursday.

The sterling clawed back its losses incurred the day before, climbing back above 1.29 against the dollar. It was last at 1.2930.

Over on Wall Street, stocks notched slight gains, bringing the S&P 500 closer to a record last seen in July.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.401, sliding from an earlier high of 97.486.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.68, strengthening from 108.72 seen earlier. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6847, following a low of $0.6834 seen earlier.

Oil prices rose in afternoon trade during Asian hours: Global benchmark Brent was at $61.05 per barrel with U.S. crude at $55.77.

What's on tap:

Here's the economic calendar for Thursday (all times in HK/SIN):

04:30 p.m.: Hong Kong exports and imports data

Indonesia rate decision

— CNBC's Sam Meredith contributed to this report.