Asia Markets

Asia Pacific stocks mixed as China's industrial profits jump; oil prices watched ahead of massive hurricane

Key Points
  • U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is expected to introduce a new pandemic-era tool to combat the economic impact of Covid-19 and foster inflation in the U.S.
  • Investors will monitor oil prices after oil rigs and refineries were shut ahead of a massive hurricane making landfall in Louisiana. 
  • On the coronavirus front, biotech firm Moderna announced Wednesday that its potential coronavirus vaccine generated a promising immune response in elderly patients during an early stage clinical trial.

Shares in Asia Pacific were mixed by the close on Thursday as the latest data showed China's economy continued to recover. Investors will monitor oil prices after oil rigs and refineries were shut ahead of a massive hurricane approaching Texas and Louisiana

Stocks in mainland China rose by the close. The Shanghai composite was up 0.61% to 3,350.11, while the Shenzhen composite jumped 1.04% to 2,261.16. The Shenzhen component rose 0.79% to 13,535.09.

Data on Thursday showed that profits in China's industrial sector grew 19.6% from last year, an increase from the 11.5% gain in June, as the country's recovery from the pandemic continues.

Over in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 0.83% in the afternoon. Xiaomi shares rocketed nearly 12%. The mobile phone maker on Wednesday reported profit more than doubled in the second quarter, as it saw strong growth in its high-end smartphone business.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.35% to close at 23,208.86, while the Topix index dipped 0.53% to 1,615.89.

South Korea's Kospi fell 1.05% to close at 2,344.45. The country's central bank kept its rates on hold on Thursday, but cut its 2020 GDP forecast, as it weighed concerns over rising house prices and the worsening coronavirus fallout.

Stocks in Australia rose marginally, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.16% to close at 6,126.20. Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 0.15%.

Over in New Zealand, its stock exchange halted trading for the third day in a row following a cyber attack earlier in the week. 

Meanwhile, investors will monitor oil prices as a massive hurricane made landfall in Louisiana. Oil rigs and refineries were shuttered as the storm approached. Oil producers on Tuesday shut 1.56 million barrels per day of crude output, or 84% of the Gulf of Mexico's production, evacuating 310 offshore facilities, according to Reuters.

Prices, however, were little changed in the afternoon of Asian trading hours. U.S. crude futures dipped 0.14% to $43.34 per barrel. International benchmark Brent crude futures traded up 0.20% to $45.73 per barrel.

Stateside, investors will await the upcoming Thursday speech stateside from the Fed's Powell, where he is expected to introduce a new pandemic-era tool to combat the economic impact of Covid-19 and foster inflation in the U.S.

On the coronavirus front, biotech firm Moderna announced Wednesday that its potential coronavirus vaccine generated a promising immune response in elderly patients during an early stage clinical trial.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose to fresh record highs overnight. The broader market index gained 1% to end its trading day stateside at 3,478.73 while the Nasdaq popped 1.7% to close at 11,665.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 83.48 points, or 0.3% to finish its trading day at 28,331.92.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 92.978 in a trading week that has seen it above 93.2 at times.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.98 per dollar after strengthening yesterday from levels around 106.5 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7247 after rising yesterday from levels around $0.72.