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China encourages elderly vaccination; Hong Kong closes 5% higher

This is CNBC's live blog covering Asia-Pacific markets.

Epidemic control workers disinfect an area on November 28, 2022 on the Liangma River, a popular area for local residents and the site of a protest against Covid measures the day before, in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Stocks in Hong Kong closed at session highs as Chinese health authorities reported recent uptick in senior vaccination rates, which is regarded by experts as crucial to reopening the economy that has been facing sporadic lockdowns.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended its session 5.24% higher to 18,204.68 with the Hang Seng Tech index rising 7.66%. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite climbed 2.31% to 3,149.75 and the Shenzhen Component added 2.4% to 11,089.01.

The CSI 300 index, which tracks the largest mainland-listed stocks, climbed 3.09% to 3,848.42 as the nation's Covid cases on Monday were lower than Sunday's count, the first decline since Nov. 19.


The moves come after a negative start to the week as investors reacted to the unrest over China's Covid restrictions. Major U.S. indexes lost around 1.5% each.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.33% to close at 7,253.30. South Korea's Kospi traded around 1% higher. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares added 1.73%.

Meanwhile, the Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 0.48% to 28,027.84 and the Topix shed 0.57% to 1,992.97 as retail sales data missed expectations and the nation's unemployment rate was unchanged from September.

— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.

Shares of U.S.-listed Chinese companies rise in pre-market trade

U.S.-listed shares of Chinese technology companies rose in pre-market trade after Chinese health authorities reported a recent uptick in senior vaccination rates.

Alibaba rose 5.6%, JD.com rose 7.43% in pre-market trading, while Pinduoduo rose 5.08% and Baidu rose 5.39%. Bilibili rose more than 10%.

Hong-Kong listed tech companies also surged after the press briefing by health authorities — the wider Hang Seng Tech index ended its session more than 7.6% higher.

– Jihye Lee

'Wrongful practices' such as long-term lockdowns should be avoided: Chinese official

A Chinese official on Tuesday described long-term lockdowns and related measures as "wrongful" if imposed for long periods.

"Long-term lockdown will not only impact the general public's normal life and work, it can easily trigger anxiety and such wrongful practices must be addressed and avoided," said Cheng Youquan, a supervisory official of the National Disease Control and Prevention Administration, at a press briefing.

He said there needs to be "better zoning of high- and low-risk regions" and that a high-risk area can be defined as a single unit or a building. He added that it "should not be arbitrarily expanded to a bigger scope."

Separately, he said ad-hoc working committees have been established to "deal with the wrongful practice of arbitrary imposition of restrictions."

— Abigail Ng

Chinese authorities urges elderly to be proactive about vaccination

Chinese health authorities urged its elderly population to show initiative regarding vaccination.

Announcing a "new work plan," Xia Gang, an NHC official in charge of immunization services, said that the government plans to "optimize services and publicity" to boost national vaccination rates, especially for the elderly.

"I also hope those elderly population, especially those over 80 years old … to please take your own initiative to vaccinate and to protect your own health," said Xia, according to a translation of Tuesday's briefing.

"We will earnestly implement the requirements of the state council and carefully organize and implement the vaccination work around the country," he said.

– Jihye Lee

China says it is 'closely watching' virus developments when asked about shift in policy

Chinese health authorities said that officials are "closely watching" the developments of Covid when asked if protests in the region would lead to shifts in its zero-Covid policy.

"China has been following and closely watching the virus as it evolves and mutates," officials said, according to a translation of Tuesday's briefing.

– Christine Wang, Evelyn Cheng

Singapore banks' exposure to crypto 'insignificant', says MAS Chairman

Singapore banks' exposure to cryptocurrency is insignificant, said the chairman of Singapore's central bank.

In response to a question in parliament, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said banks will be required to hold $125 Singapore dollars of capital for every $100 of cryptocurrency.

The MAS added that it will follow the framework of international standard-setter Basel Committee on Banking Supervision on treatment of banks' exposure to digital assets.

"Pending the finalization of the framework, MAS requires Singapore-incorporated banks to apply a 1250% risk weight for exposures to riskier cryptoassets such as Bitcoin and Ether," he said.

The measures seek to "ensure that banks maintain adequate capital and liquidity for such exposures," he said.

– Sheila Chiang

China announces measures to boost elderly vaccination

China's health authorities released a plan to boost elderly vaccination, according to a notice on the National Health Commission's website.

Hong Kong-listed shares of CanSino Biologics extended gains in the afternoon session and rose as much as 18% shortly after the announcement was posted.

The notice said authorities should use multiple data points to accurately identify target groups for vaccination for the elderly.

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Jihye Lee

Pinpoint Asset Management expects a positive message to be delivered at China Covid briefing

China's government didn't take the Covid protests in a negative way, economist says
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China's government didn't take the Covid protests in a negative way: Economist

China's state council is expected to deliver a positive message at the upcoming Covid press conference, but the announcement will not include a "milestone," said Pinpoint Asset Management's President Zhiwei Zhang.

"I think the message would be positive actually … there are quite many positive signals coming from the central and local governments," said Zhang, who cited examples such as the government allowing residential compounds in Beijing to be opened.

However, he cautioned that the reopening will be a "long process" all the way leading up to March next year, and said the "medical system may not be able to support the transition" especially for the immediate winter season. 

— Lee Ying Shan

Currency check: Asia-Pacific currencies strengthen sharply, led by the Chinese yuan

Both the onshore and offshore Chinese yuan strengthened against the dollar in Asia's session ahead of a press conference on Covid measures.

The greenback lost 1.09% against the offshore yuan and 0.65% against the onshore yuan, with both trading around 7.16-levels. The offshore yuan traded near 7.24 per dollar before it strengthened sharply.

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Other Asia-Pacific currencies also gained against the dollar. The Australian dollar was up at $0.6701 after jumping from around $0.66-levels, and the Korean won was at 1,326.79 per dollar compared with around 1,340 earlier on Tuesday.

— Abigail Ng

Chinese indexes pop ahead of Covid briefing

Indexes in China jumped more than 2% as investors closely watched for developments in the nation's zero-Covid policy after seeing losses in the previous session.

China's CSI 300 index rose 2.97% in the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite climbed 2.2%. The Shenzhen Component Index gained 2.172%.

Local media reported that the Chinese State Council will hold a press conference on Covid measures at 3 p.m. local time, or 2 a.m. ET.

The nation saw a drop in the number of daily infections for the first time in more than a week.

– Evelyn Cheng, Jihye Lee

China's Xi will likely continue to be 'very pragmatic,' including on Covid policy, strategist says

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been realistic and practical on Covid, domestic real estate issues and politics since the end of the Communist Party of China's National Congress, said Andy Rothman, an investment strategist at Matthews Asia.

"He's been pragmatic on Covid policy, announcing a change in direction more towards living with Covid rather than Covid zero," he said on CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" when asked about how the government might respond to recent unrest in parts of China.

"He's been pragmatic on property, he's been very pragmatic on dealing with Joe Biden, so I expect that to continue," Rothman said.

He added that he views the unrests related to the prolonged zero-Covid policies as largely in line with what is expected to come from the Chinese government.

"What the protesters seem to be asking for, are things Xi Jinping has already said he wants to deliver," he said. "He wants to deliver a path out of zero tolerance for Covid, towards living with Covid like all the rest of the world."

Rothman added that the latest announcements to ease quarantine measures for international travelers suggests that delivering shifts from the zero-Covid policy will be "relatively easier."

"He's not backing down, [or] giving in under pressure, he's just delivering, on a more accelerated pace, what he's already told these students that he wants to give them," he said.

— Abigail Ng

Oil prices jump more than a dollar ahead of China briefing

Oil prices climbed ahead of a press conference which will be held by China's State Council, as investors continue to monitor developments – paring some losses seen on Monday, when it reached the lowest levels in almost a year.

The West Texas Intermediate futures climbed up 1.76% to stand at $78.59 per barrel, while the Brent crude futures climbed 2.28% to stand at $85.00 per barrel.

However, oil markets may be "misjudging news of China's lockdown," Rystad Energy wrote in a note.

"[The latest lockdowns'] likely effect on China's short-term oil demand, particularly in transportation, is likely to be minor," the note added, citing the company's own research of real-traffic activity in China.

Even with daily Covid cases continuing to climb, cities like Shanghai have not shown a slowdown in road traffic activity, according to Rystad Energy's own research.

— Lee Ying Shan

China likely won't make sudden changes to its Covid policy: National University of Singapore

The Chinese government is unlikely to make sudden changes to its zero-Covid policy as that will bring chaos, National University of Singapore Professor Wang Gungwu said on CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia."

"If you change the policy suddenly, I think the damage and the consequences would be even worse — it'd be really chaotic because I think the spread of Covid will be absolutely unprecedented," said Wang.

He added that he expects Chinese leader Xi Jinping to make adjustments on more local levels to ease public dissent.

Wang said Xi doesn't want to officially admit the "policy has been wrong for quite a while," but also cannot change it immediately.

– Jihye Lee

Hong Kong-listed property stocks rise after China amends fundraising rule

Equities related to Hong Kong-listed property developers jumped after China's regulator announced it would lift a ban on equity fundraising for the sector.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission announced five measures of support for the real estate market, including the removal of a multi-year restriction on property developers selling stocks to raise funding.

Cifi Holdings Group jumped 13.01% in the first hour of trade, Country Garden also rose 13.36%, Logan Group rose 10.23% and Longfor Group gained 9.88%.

— Jihye Lee

Hong Kong on pace for best month since April 1999

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index is on pace to post its best month since April 1999, when the index gained 21.85%.

The index rose more than 3% as of Tuesday morning, and is up around 22% for the month of November, according to Refinitiv data.

The HSI closed 1.57% lower on Monday, the worst day in a week, when the Hang Seng lost 1.87% on Nov. 21.

Gina Francolla, Jihye Lee

Japan's unemployment rate unchanged, retail sales miss estimates

Japan's unemployment rate for October was steady from September's reading of 2.6%, according to official data. The figure is slightly higher than the mean expectation of 2.5% from economists polled by Reuters.

The jobs-to-applicant ratio, which measures active job openings per jobseeker, was at 1.35. That indicates that there are 135 jobs available for every 100 applicants, signaling a still tight labor market in Japan.

The nation's retail sales rose 4.3% in October on an annualized basis, missing expectations of 5% increase predicted in a separate Reuters poll .

The latest reading marks the first softening in retail sales growth that it's seen since June this year.

Jihye Lee

Fed should keep hiking into next year, Bullard says

James Bullard at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Monday that the Fed should continue to raise its benchmark interest rate in the coming months and that the market may be underestimating the chance that the Fed has to get more aggressive.

"We're going to have to continue pursue our interest rate increases into 2023, and there's some risk that we've have to go even higher than [5%]," Bullard said at a Barron's Live webinar.

Bullard made waves in financial markets earlier this month when he said the Fed's hikes have had "only limited effects" on inflation so far and that the benchmark interest rate may need to rise to between 5% and 7%.

Bullard, who is a voting member of the FOMC, said that the Fed will need to hold off any rate cuts next year even if the inflation picture starts to show consistent improvement.

"I think we'll probably have to stay there all through 2023 and into 2024, given the historical behavior of core PCE inflation or Dallas Fed trimmed mean inflation. They will come down, I think. That's my baseline. But they probably won't come down quite as fast as markets would like and probably the Fed would like," Bullard said.

— Jesse Pound

CNBC Pro: Asset manager names 9 'cheap' stocks to buy as recession fears grow

It's "critical" for investors to be looking at valuations right now as a recession is looming and inflation looks likely to continue, said Steven Glass, managing director of Pella Funds Management.

In this environment, Glass selected a list of nine stocks that he said, "look particularly cheap given their growth outlook."

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

Cryptocurrency prices drop but quickly recover after BlockFi declares bankruptcy

The price of bitcoin took a dip on Monday after BlockFi officially announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the wake of FTX's bankruptcy.

Bitcoin briefly dropped to as low as about $16,000 but has rebounded already. It was last lower by just 1% to above $16,300, according to Coin Metrics. The action in the ether price showed a similar bounce.

BlockFi has been in bad shape since the spring, following the blowup of the Terra project that led to the implosion of Three Arrows Capital. At that time, the company accepted a bailout from FTX that would help it stave off bankruptcy. Of course, FTX is now managing its own bankruptcy.

— Tanaya Macheel

CNBC Pro: Goldman Sachs names the global automakers exposed to a China slowdown

Many global companies are heavily exposed to China, including some of the world's biggest automakers, which generate between 20% and 40% of their worldwide sales in the country, according to Goldman Sachs.

In a note to clients on Nov. 22 — before the latest protests — the investment bank mapped out the global auto industry's exposure to Chinese consumers.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

Stocks end Monday's session lower

After a winning Thanksgiving week, the three major indexes ended Monday down as investors sold off amid mounting concerns over supply chain disruptions amid Covid-related protests in China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.45%, or 497.57 points, and closed at 33,849.46. The S&P 500 also shed 1.54% to end at 3,963.94. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 1.58% and ended at 11,049.50.

— Alex Harring