Hong Kong stocks rise 2%, lead gains in Asia's mixed session after Fed hints at pause in hikes

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

Sunrise over Hong Kong in June, 2020
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Asia-Pacific markets were mixed on Thursday, following Wall Street's reaction overnight after the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked rates by another 25 basis points. Regional bank stocks in the U.S. also fell after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in response to a question that officials are not considering a 'blanket insurance' for bank deposits.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index led gains in Asia, up 2.11% and the Hang Seng Tech index was up 4.41%, mainly due to gains by tech giant Tencent.

In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component was 0.8% higher to end at 11,605.29 and the Shanghai Composite closed 0.64% up to end the day at 3,286.65.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.61% to close at 6,972.5. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.17% to end at 27,419.61, and the Topix slid 0.29% to finish at 1,957.32.

South Korea's Kospi closed 0.31% up, while the Kosdaq fell 0.15% to end the day at 812.18.

Overnight in the US, all three major indexes posted losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled by over 500 points, or 1.63%, while the S&P 500 saw a larger fall of 1.65% and the Nasdaq Composite declined 1.6%.

— CNBC's Hakyung Kim, Tanaya Macheel, Jeff Cox and Yun Li contributed to this report

Toshiba's board to accept $15 billion takeover bid from consortium: Nikkei

Toshiba's board has to accept a takeover offer of 2 trillion yen ($15.3 billion) from a coalition of roughly 20 companies including Japan Industrial Partners, Nikkei reported.

The resolution was passed at a board meeting on Thursday, the report said, adding that the coalition's bid will take the firm private.

Tokyo-listed shares of the stock closed 0.2% lower in Thursday's trade at 4,213 yen per share.

Toshiba declined to comment to CNBC on the Nikkei report.

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— Jihye Lee, Naman Tandon

Asian currencies strengthen against dollar after Fed meeting

Currencies in the Asia-Pacific strengthened against the greenback as the U.S. dollar index fell to 102 after the Federal Reserve raised rates and hinted at an end to its rate hike cycle.

The Japanese yen strengthened by 0.6% in Asia's afternoon and traded at 130.7 against the U.S. dollar. The Korean won also strengthened by 1.5% to stand at 1,278.9 against the greenback

The Australian dollar also saw strengthening of more than 0.8% to 0.6738 against the U.S. dollar. China's onshore yuan strengthened by 0.63% to 6.8220 against the greenback.

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— Jihye Lee

Singapore headline inflation pace slows slightly in February to 6.3%

Singapore's consumer price index rose 6.3% year-on-year for February, slightly lower than the 6.6% figure recorded in January.

This was mainly driven by lower private transport inflation, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Core inflation, which excludes accommodation and private transport, held steady at 5.5%.

MAS said it expects headline inflation to come in at between 5.5% and 6.5% for 2023 and core inflation projected a core inflation rate of between 3.5% to 4.5%.

On Thursday, the Singapore dollar strengthened 0.5% to trade against the U.S. dollar at 1.324.

— Lim Hui Jie

Fed rate hike is a 'big mistake' says managing partner at Garcia, Hamilton and Associates

U.S. Fed has been hiking interest rates 'too far, too fast,' says investment management firm
Fed has been hiking rates 'too far, too fast': Investment management firm

Gilbert Garcia, managing partner at Garcia, Hamilton and Associates, said the U.S. Federal Reserve is making a "big mistake" after it hiked rates by another 25 basis points.

The Fed has been raising rates "too far, too fast," when all the leading indicators seem to suggest that the U.S. economy may be headed for a recession, he noted.

"Whether it's money supply growth, whether it's shape of the yield curve — are really flashing to slow down, that in fact, a recession is going to be upon us," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia."

"I think the fact that they raise rates yet again is going to be a big mistake. They should not only stop raising rates, they should also stop quantitative tightening as well."

— Sumathi Bala

Tencent shares surge more than 5% after revenue beats expectations

Shares of Chinese tech giant Tencent jumped 5.3% on Thursday as the company reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue a day earlier, boosted by growth in ads within its growing "video accounts" business.

The stock was one of the largest gainers on the Hang Seng index, and is also the largest stock on the HSI by index weight.

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The wider Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.78%, while the Hang Seng Tech index - which Tencent and Lenovo are part of - rose 1.62%.

— Lim Hui Jie

Japan's major banks lead losses on Topix

Japanese banks and financials led losses on the Topix on Thursday, following the moves of regional banks in the U.S. after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the FDIC was not considering expanding bank deposit guarantees beyond its current limit.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial was the largest loser among Japan's major banks, with its share price falling 2.66%, while counterparts Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial were down 1.78% and 1.96% respectively.

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— Lim Hui Jie

JPMorgan emphasizes "defensive" approach for Asia markets

JPMorgan emphasized the need to take a "defensive" approach for Asia markets following the Federal Reserve's latest decision to raise interest rates by 25 basis points alongside the recent volatility seen in the banking sector.

"For APAC investors, the latest Fed decision and banking sector stress in the past weeks reinforces our view of taking a more defensive approach in asset allocation, focusing on high quality fixed income," APAC Chief market strategist Tai Hui said in a Thursday note.

He added that China's economy will outperform in the months ahead and that will lead to a "window of opportunity" for less export-dependent companies in the region. He expects currencies in Asia and emerging markets to benefit from a weakening dollar as well.

– Jihye Lee

Tencent posts quarterly revenue beat thanks to ad sales

Chinese tech giant Tencent reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue, helped by growth in ads within its growing "video accounts" business.

"This advertising unit allowed them to unlock revenue coming from e-commerce, which has done pretty well," James Lee, U.S. and China internet analyst at Mizuho Securities, said on CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia."

Lee has a neutral rating on Tencent and a price target of 400 Hong Kong dollars.

Online advertising revenue grew by 15% in the fourth quarter from a year ago to 24.7 billion yuan ($3.59 billion), bringing overall revenue for the quarter to 144.95 billion yuan. That's above the 143.89 billion yuan forecast by FactSet.

– Evelyn Cheng

Bill Ackman warns bank deposit outflows could accelerate

Billionaire investor and CEO of Pershing Square Bill Ackman warned in a tweet bank deposit outflows could accelerate after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the FDIC was not considering expanding bank deposit guarantees beyond its current limit of $250,000.

Yellen's comments led to a drop in regional bank shares in the U.S.

"I would be surprised if deposit outflows don't accelerate effective immediately," Ackman wrote in his tweet.

In a separate tweet, Ackman said that he fears markets are "heading for another train wreck," adding that he hopes regulators will "get this right."

"The longer this banking crisis is allowed to continue, the greater the damage to smaller banks and their ability to access low-cost capital," he said.

– Jihye Lee

Yellen says not considering blanket insurance' for deposits

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the FDIC was not considering providing "blanket insurance" for banking deposits, according to Reuters. Yellen made the remarks at a hearing of a U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee.

Yellen said the administration was not considering expanding bank deposit guarantees beyond the current limit of $250,000, Reuters reported. Some investors was hoping such an expansion would help prevent the crisis from spreading further.

— Yun Li

Fed raises interest rates 25 basis points

The Federal Reserve hiked its benchmark interest rate by another 25 basis points, in line with Wall Street's predictions.

This marks the central bank's ninth hike since it began raising rates in March 2022, as well as its first announcement following the recent fallout in the banking sector. The increase takes the benchmark federal funds rate to a target range between 4.75%-5%.

The Federal Open Market Committee said in a post-meeting statement that it "will closely monitor incoming information and assess the implications for monetary policy." Fed projections call for just one more hike this year.

— Hakyung Kim

Financial conditions have tightened more than the market shows, Powell says

Financial conditions seem to have tightened more than the U.S. benchmark indexes indicate, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said during Wednesday's press conference.

"The traditional indexes are focused a lot on rates and equities, and they don't necessarily capture lending conditions," Powell said when asked what financial situation would warrant an interest rate cut, especially if credit conditions were to further tighten. Concerns of a credit crunch, which occurs when banks significantly tighten their lending standards, have grown amid the banking crisis.

If tighter lending conditions are sustained, Powell acknowledged that could easily have a significant macroeconomic impact which would be factored into the Fed's policy decisions.

"The question for us though is how significant will that be and what would be the extent of it and what would be the duration of it," he said, adding that "rate cuts are not in our base case."

— Pia Singh

Cryptocurrencies rise ahead of Federal Reserve rate decision

Bitcoin hit a high of $28,790 on Wednesday, continuing the recent rally in cryptocurrency prices as investors awaited the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting this afternoon. That level is the highest since June 11, 2022, when bitcoin traded as high as $29,405, according to Coin Metrics. Ether also gained 0.7% to $1,813.52. 

Shares of crypto exchange Coinbase Global were earlier up 0.4%, on pace for its 8th straight positive day after the stock has gained 37% so far this month. It recently edged lower, down by 0.2%, to $83.80. The rally marks a reversal from Coinbase's underperformance throughout 2022, when its shares dropped 86%.

— Pia Singh

CNBC Pro: Morgan Stanley just upgraded a global energy stock it says has 'significant' potential for growth

Morgan Stanley upgraded the shares of a European energy firm — and also raised its price target for the stock.

According to the bank, it has "one of the strongest balance sheets" and is "close to debt-free."

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

CNBC Pro: This e-commerce stock has a whopping 300% upside, according to Morgan Stanley

E-commerce growth is back, and Morgan Stanley has several stock picks for investors to cash in, including a less obvious name it says has huge upside.

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