Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Wednesday, as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell overnight acknowledged that inflation is declining — a sign the central bank may soon pause its rate hikes. U.S. futures, meanwhile, are mixed after President Joe Biden's State of the Union address.
The Nikkei 225 fell 0.29% to 27,606.46, dragged down by declining shares of Sharp, Nintendo and Softbank after posting disappointing results. The Topix, however, closed fractionally higher at 1,983.97.
In South Korea, the Kospi rose 1.3% to close at 2,483.64, leading gains in the region and the Kosdaq rose 0.93% to end the day at 779.98. The S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.35% to 7,530.1 as investors further digested the Reserve Bank of Australia's Tuesday hike that also included hawkish commentary.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.11% in its final hour of trade, while the Hang Seng Tech index declined 1.75%. In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component closed 0.61% lower to 11,853.46, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.49% to close at 3,232.14.
Overnight on Wall Street, all three major indexes closed higher, with the Nasdaq Composite posting the biggest daily gain, climbing nearly 2%. Investors cheered Powell's comments on disinflation, hoping they indicated the central bank could continue slowing on its interest rate hike campaign.
India's central bank hikes 25 basis points as expected
The Reserve Bank of India raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 6.50%, in line with expectations.
The Indian rupee strengthened 0.24% after the announcement against the U.S. dollar and last traded at 82.657.
India's Nifty traded 0.66% higher in its first hours of trade and the S&P/Sensex rose 0.43%.
"The Reserve Bank will remain flexible and responsive towards meeting the productive requirements of the economy," the central bank's chief general manager Yogesh Dayal said in a statement.
– Jihye Lee
Sharp shares plunge over 11% after disappointing earnings report
Shares of Sharp listed in Tokyo fell 11.55% in Asia's afternoon session after the company reported a net loss of 17.59 billion yen ($134 million) in its three-month period ending in Dec. 2022.
This was a steep decline from the 28.32 billion yen net profit in the same period the year before.
In its earnings presentation, the company revised its 2022 forecast, saying it expects to see a loss of 20 billion yen for its full year ending March 2023, adding that the figure was updated to reflect the "current business environment."
— Lim Hui Jie
CNBC Pro: Goldman Sachs picks stocks to ride the EV wave, giving one upside of 120%
Goldman Sachs says the ecosystem surrounding the development of electric vehicles is set to see "considerable growth" through 2030.
Goldman gave one global stock huge potential upside — one of the highest among all its stock picks in the report.
— Weizhen Tan
Hines announces $1 billion mixed-use development in South Korea
Real estate investor Hines sees significant growth opportunities in South Korea despite rising rates as it announced plans to develop a $1 billion mixed-use complex in Busan.
Hines said in a press release that the 'Global Quantum Complex' in Busan will house South Korea's first quantum computing R&D hub, as well as office and education spaces.
"We are seeing really strong rent growth and robust fundamentals – net rent growth is actually outpacing interest rate rises and cap rate gains," Asia-Pacific CEO Raymond Lawler told CNBC's Chery Kang in an interview.
"This time in the market provides unique opportunities ," he said.
– Chery Kang, Jihye Lee
Japan's current account misses estimates
Japan's current account surplus fell to 33.4 billion yen ($254 million) in December, according to data from the Ministry of Finance.
The reading missed Reuters estimates for a 98.4 billion yen surplus and marked a sharp decline from the previous surplus of 1.8 trillion yen for November.
The Japanese yen last weakened 0.17% and stood at 131.28 against the U.S. dollar, while the yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond stood at 0.49%, near the upper ceiling of the Bank of Japan's tolerance range of 0.5%.
– Jihye Lee
SM shares surge over 9% after Kakao proposes to increase stake to 9.05%
Shares of South Korean entertainment giant SM Entertainment climbed over 9% in Wednesday's morning, reversing its decline of 2% on Tuesday after an announcement by South Korean internet company Kakao to increase its stake to 9.05% in the company.
Kakao announced a planned acquisition of 1.23 million shares of SM Entertainment in a 112 billion won deal (US$89.1 billion), as well as convertible bonds worth 105.6 billion won on Tuesday.
The move would make Kakao the second largest shareholder of SM Entertainment after the agency's founder Lee Soo Man's stake of 18.46%.
On Tuesday, the Korea Economic Daily reported that Lee will take legal action against Kakao's move and apply for a preliminary injunction against the deal.
Shares of Kakao have also inched up slightly, trading about 0.5% higher.
–Lim Hui Jie
Softbank, Nintendo falls after posting disappointing earnings
Shares of Softbank fell roughly 5% at Japan's open after the company posted a net loss of roughly $6 billion in its October-December quarter of 2022.
The company's investment arm, the Vision Fund, posted a fourth straight quarter of losses in the same period.