Asia-Pacific markets rise, Japanese yen strengthens as Fed signals smaller hikes

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

A Star Ferry ship parked in front of the Hong Kong Skyline on October 13, 2022 in Hong Kong, China. (Photo by Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Markets in the Asia-Pacific traded higher, carrying on the optimism behind Wall Street's rally as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell confirmed smaller rate hikes could start in December.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 1.42%, with the Hang Seng Tech index trading 2.3% higher. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.45%, while the Shenzhen Component gained 1.4%.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for China came in at 49.4, higher than expectations while marking a fourth consecutive month of contraction.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 0.92% to 28,226.08 while the Topix rose 0.04% to 1,986.46. In South Korea, the Kospi gained 0.3% to 2,479.84 and the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.96% to 7,354.4.

Overnight in the U.S., major indexes ended the session higher, with the S&P ending its 3-day losing streak and the Dow Jones jumping 700 points after Powell's comments.

Japanese yen strengthens after Powell commentary on smaller hikes

The Japanese yen strengthened against the dollar, following Fed Chair Jerome Powell's comments signaling smaller interest rate hikes could come as soon as the next meeting in December.

The USD/JPY fell 1.2% in Asia's trading hours and last stood at 136.33 – hovering around the strongest levels for the Japanese currency in over 3 months.

Loading chart...

– Jihye Lee

Temasek's $245 million FTX loss 'caused reputational damage' to Singapore, says deputy prime minister

Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said the state sovereign wealth fund's investment loss of $275 million in collapsed crypto exchange FTX is "disappointing and has caused reputational damage" to the city-state.

But the investment loss does not mean the governance system is not working, Wong said, adding that an internal review is being conducted.

"Rather, it is the nature of investment and risk-taking," he said.

The FTX loss will not impact the net investment returns of Singapore's reserves, which are "tied to the overall expected long term returns of our investment entities and not to individual investments," he said.

Going forward, Singapore plans to require crypto service providers to implement basic investor protection measures, but "no amount of regulation can remove this risk," he warned.

– Sheila Chiang

China's Caixin manufacturing PMI marks fourth straight month of contraction

China's Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for November came in at 49.4, higher than expectations of 48.9 in a Reuters survey of economists.

The reading marks a fourth consecutive month of contraction, after a reading of 49.2 from October and dipping to 48.1 in September — below the 50-point mark which separates growth from contraction.

Separately, the official PMI print from China's National Bureau of Statistics reported Wednesday came in at 48, showing a second consecutive month of contraction in factory activity.

– Jihye Lee

Oil prices little changed as White House weighs additional oil reserves

The White House is considering building additional oil reserves against the backdrop of the upcoming winter and uncertainty surrounding the market, sources familiar with the matter told CNBC.

The Biden administration is weighing whether to call on Congress to raise the storage limit, potentially doubling it, to build additional reserves the administration could release if supply tightens or prices rise again, the people said.

The U.S. currently holds about 1 million barrels of heating oil in New York and Connecticut.

The White House is bracing for a potential price spike, as Europe's oil embargo and G-7's price cap on Russian oil looms ahead, potentially disrupting supply.

Oil prices are little changed in early Asia hours. The West Texas Intermediate futures dipped fractionally to stand at $80.53 per barrel, while the Brent crude futures shed 0.06% to stand at $86.92 per barrel.

— Kayla Tausche, Lee Ying Shan

CNBC Pro: Forget Amazon. Here’s what top tech investor Paul Meeks is buying

Investor confidence in the tech sector has been shaken this year amid a flight to safety, but top tech investor Paul Meeks said he is now "more bullish" on the sector than in recent months, though he remains selective within the sector.

He tells CNBC the stocks he favors.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

South Korea's revised GDP confirms growth in the third quarter

South Korea's revised gross domestic product for the third quarter confirmed growth of 3.1% compared to the same period a year ago – higher than a 2.9% expansion seen in the second quarter.

The economy saw slower quarterly growth of 0.3% in the third quarter, following a growth of 0.7% in the previous period.

Separately, South Korea reported a trade deficit of $7.01 billion for November, exceeding expectations of $4.42 billion — marking the third consecutive month of rising trade deficit driven by sluggish exports.

Exports shrank by 14%, lower than forecasts of a drop of 11% — while imports grew more than expected by 2.7%, according to preliminary data from the customs agency.

– Jihye Lee

CNBC Pro: UBS reveals 15 global stocks sensitive to China's reopening plans

Chinese stocks have risen this week after the nation's health authorities reported a recent uptick in vaccination rates, which experts regard as crucial to reopening the country.

The impact of Beijing's change in tack toward dealing with the outbreak of Covid-19 is being felt not only in China but also around the world.

The Swiss bank UBS has identified 15 stocks in the MSCI Europe index that will outperform "in an environment where China's growth rebounds and the country reopens its borders."

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

Powell continues to believe in a path to a soft-ish landing

I do continue to believe there's a path to a soft landing, says Jerome Powell
I do continue to believe there's a path to a soft landing, says Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says he continues to believe in a path to a "soft-ish" landing — even if the path has narrowed over the past year.

"I would like to continue to believe that there's a path to a soft or soft-ish landing" Powell said at the Brookings Institution.

"Our job is to try to achieve that, and I think it's still achievable," Powell said. "If you look at the history, it's not a likely outcome, but I would just say this is a different set of circumstances."

— Sarah Min

Indexes jump on Powell comments

Fed Chair Jerome Powell's comments indicating the central bank will slow future interest rate hikes as soon as December put upward pressure on the three major indexes.

The S&P 500 jumped up 0.6% from the red on the news.

The Dow was near flat after trading down for most of the day.

The Nasdaq Composite gained steam to 1.3% up.

— Alex Harring

Powell says Fed can "moderate the pace" of future rate increases due to lagged effect of past hikes

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told an audience at the Brookings Institution Wednesday that the central bank can afford to ease back on its tighter monetary policy at its December meeting (due to wrap up Dec. 14).

The lagged effect of higher rates already taken in 2022, plus the drawing down of the size of the Fed's balance sheet through quantitative tightening, mean "it makes sense to moderate the pace of our rate increases as we approach the level of restraint that will be sufficient to bring inflation down," Powell said.

"The time for moderating the pace of rate increases may come as soon as the December meeting," said the 69-year-old Fed chair.

In response to Powell's remarks, the S&P 500 quickly gained to about 3970 vs about 3950 before the address.

— Scott Schnipper, Jeff Cox