Hong Kong shares lead losses as investors digest Chinese economic data; biotech firm BeiGene debuts in Shanghai
- Chinese biotech firm BeiGene made its debut in Shanghai's Nasdaq-style board Star Market.
- China released a slew of key economic data on Wednesday, including industrial production and retail sales.
- The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned the new Covid omicron variant is spreading faster than any previous strain.
- The Fed will conclude its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday later stateside, and central bank Chair Jerome Powell is set to speak at a 2:30 p.m. ET press conference.
SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets were mostly down Wednesday, with Chinese markets declining as investors digested key Chinese economic data. Meanwhile, Chinese biotech firm BeiGene made its debut in Shanghai.
Hong Kong markets led losses, with the Hang Seng tumbling 0.9% to close at 23,420.76. The Hang Seng tech index was down 1.52%.
The Shanghai composite declined 0.38% to close at 3,647.63, and the Shenzhen component fell 0.73% to 15,026.21.
Chinese biotech firm BeiGene made its debut in Shanghai's Nasdaq-style board Star Market at an offer price of 192.6 yuan ($30.24) per share, after raising over $3 billion. However, the stock opened 8.1% below that offer price, at 176.96 yuan per share. It closed at 160.98 yuan, or about 16% down.
The company is already listed in Hong Kong and the Nasdaq in the U.S.
China released a slew of key economic data on Wednesday. Its industrial output for November was up 3.8% year-on-year, more than the 3.5% increase in October, and better than the 3.6% expected in a Reuters poll.
Data also showed that retail sales in November rose 3.9% year-on-year, less than October's 4.9% increase, and below the expectations of 4.6% in a Reuters poll.
Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei 225 inched down 0.1% to close at 28,459.72, while the Topix rose 0.52% to 1,984.10.
Toyota shares jumped 3.59% after it announced it will invest eight trillion yen ($70 billion) into electrifying its vehicles by 2030, according to Reuters.
South Korea's Kospi closed near flat to 2,989.39, while in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.7% to 7,327.10.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.62%.
U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday as some large tech stocks moved lower and new inflation data continued to show a sharp rise in producer prices.
The Nasdaq Composite led the decline, falling 1.14% to 15,237.64. The S&P 500 slid 0.75% to close at 4,634.09. The Dow Jones Industrial Average held up better than its counterparts but still fell 106.77 points, or 0.30%, to 35,544.18.
The Fed will conclude its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday later stateside, and central bank Chair Jerome Powell is set to speak at a 2:30 p.m. ET press conference.
Omicron fears hitting oil prices
Investor sentiment is set to remain cautious after the World Health Organization on Tuesday warned the new Covid omicron variant is spreading faster than any previous strain, saying that the variant is probably present in most countries of the world.
Meanwhile, oil prices dropped after the International Energy Agency said demand for oil is set to be lower than expected next year, hit by the new omicron variant.
"Oil prices fell overnight after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that oil markets have returned to surplus this month and that surplus will deepen early next year," said Vivek Dhar, director of mining and energy commodities research at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
"The group's forecast is predicated on weaker demand linked to the omicron variant of COVID‑19, as well as stronger oil production from OPEC+, the US, Canada and Brazil," he wrote in a Wednesday note.
Crude prices continue to fall during Asia hours. U.S. crude fell 1.57% to $69.63 per barrel, while Brent futures were down 1.33% to $72.72.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.448, dropping back a little from levels around 96.5 earlier.
The Japanese yen traded at 113.67 per dollar, as it continued to weaken from levels around 113.5. The Australian dollar rose to $0.7123.