Asia-Pacific markets were mostly lower on Thursday after minutes from the March Federal Open Market Committee meeting showed that Fed officials see the U.S. economy entering a recession in the wake of the banking crisis.
Comments from the Fed erased earlier gains seen on Wall Street after the release of the U.S. consumer price index report that showed inflation cooled in March. The U.S. CPI rose 0.1% for the month and 5% from a year ago while core CPI rose 5.6% on an annual basis.
Stocks on Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.15%, while the Hang Seng Tech index slid 0.66%.
South Korea's Kospi was 0.43% higher to end 2,561.66, and the Kosdaq ended 0.41% up at 894.25.
Overnight on Wall Street, stocks ended lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average snapped a four-day win streak, erasing earlier gains following the U.S. inflation report and shed 0.11%. The S&P 500 declined 0.41% and the Nasdaq Composite fell by 0.85%.
Markets have not priced in a U.S. recession: JPMorgan Private Bank
Markets do not seem to have priced in a potential U.S. recession, despite forecasts that one is on the horizon, according to Alex Wolf, managing director of JPMorgan Private Bank and head of its investment strategy for Asia.
Speaking to CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia," Wolf explained that while there has been a "long standing call" for a U.S. recession in the second half of 2023, the recent turmoil in the banking sector has "somewhat pulled forward our forecasts."
In terms of equites, Wolf does think that there is "likely still some downside to earnings," and for fixed income, he says that yields will move "much lower" in the the event of a recession.
For Asia specifically, he described most of the markets and economies in this region as "highly cyclical," which means that if there's a "broad based cyclical downturn" in the U.S., or an even broader recession that includes Europe, "historically, [it] has not been a positive for Asia."
— Lim Hui Jie
China exports see surprise jump in March
Exports from China beat expectations and marked a surprise jump in March posting 14.8% growth after a 6.8% decline in February.
This snaps a five month streak of declines, while imports also fell smaller than expected at 1.4%.
In U.S. dollar terms, China saw a trade surplus of $88.19 billion, much larger than expectations to see a surplus of $39.2 billion.
The Chinese yuan strengthened to 6.8722 against the U.S. dollar.
— Jihye Lee
Apple holding talks with suppliers in Thailand to make MacBooks: Nikkei
Apple is reportedly holding talks with suppliers to produce MacBooks in Thailand, as the U.S. tech giant seeks to expand its manufacturing operations outside of China, according to Nikkei, citing sources.
The Apple suppliers involved in the talks already have manufacturing complexes in Thailand for other clients, the report said, and are discussing possible assembly and production of components and modules for MacBooks.
Fragilities in China were exposed last year, after production was disrupted by a COVID-19 outbreak and worker protests at the world's largest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China, which is run by Taiwanese firm Foxconn.
— Sumathi Bala
BHP Group to buy Oz Minerals in $6.4 billion deal
Australian mining company BHP has received shareholders' approval for its A$9.6 billion ($6.4 billion) takeover of nickel and copper miner Oz Minerals.
At a shareholders meeting, 78.93% of proxy votes from shareholders voted in favor of the transaction.
BHP offered a consideration of A$28.25 per share for the takeover, made up of A$26.50 paid by BHP in cash and A$1.75 paid by Oz Minerals as a special dividend.
Should the takeover receive approval from the Federal Court of Australia on April 17, shares of Oz Minerals will be delisted on April 18.
— Lim Hui Jie
Australia unemployment in March holds steady at 3.5%
Australia's unemployment rate for March came in at 3.5%, unchanged from February and lower than the 3.6% economists expected.
In March, the country's statistics bureau revealed that employment increased by 31,700 people to 13.88 million people, a small 0.2% increase.
The employment rate is one of the key metrics that the Reserve Bank of Australia will observe to decide if it should resume its rate hikes, having paused at 3.6% in March.
— Lim Hui Jie
Alibaba shares in Hong Kong slide 4% after Softbank reportedly sells most of its stake
Hong Kong listed shares of Chinese tech giant Alibaba slipped 3.9% in early trading Thursday, tracking losses in its U.S.-listed stock.
Overnight, Alibaba's U.S.-listed shares dropped nearly 3% in after-hours trading after regulatory files revealed that SoftBank has sold a majority of its stake in the company.
An analysis of the corporate filings by the Financial Times revealed SoftBank has sold roughly $7.2 billion worth of shares in the Chinese ecommerce giant via prepaid forward contracts.
Because of the sales, the report noted that SoftBank will now only maintain a 3.8% stake in Alibaba, which has a market cap over nearly $250 billion.
— Lim Hui Jie, Jonathan Vanian
Sunac China plunges 55% at trading resumption, says restructuring plan underway
Sunac China said in a filing request trading resumption earlier this week said that it was in the process of implementing a restructuring plan.
Trading was suspended for the company's shares alongside a slew of Chinese developers that defaulted on repayments of debt last year.
Sunac China reached an agreement to restructure $9 billion of its debt by converting to new notes and convertible bonds backed by its Hong Kong shares as well as shares of its unit Sunac Services.
— Jihye Lee
Philippines central bank signals pause in interest rate hikes
The Philippines' central bank signaled that it could pause interest rates hikes during its meeting next month.
In a briefing streamed on Facebook, governor Felipe Medalla said "we are probably pausing in the next meeting because the inflation prints are very good."
The country has raised interest rates at the fastest pace in Asia, with rates climbing 425 basis points since May 2021.
Its current policy interest rate stands at 6.25%, after hiking rates by 25 basis points in March.
— Lim Hui Jie
Australia unemployment rate expected to rise further in March
Australia's unemployment rate is expected to rise to 3.6% in March, ticking up from the 3.5% seen in February, according to a Reuters poll.
Labor participation rate in March is expected to remain flat at 66.6%, same as the reading from a month ago.
Total employment figures are set to plunge to a third of what was seen in February, with economists expecting to see the reading at 20,000 employed people compared to February's 64,600 employed people.
The Australian dollar slightly strengthened to 0.6691 against the U.S. dollar ahead of the release.
— Jihye Lee
Bank of Japan governor reiterates stance on monetary easing policy
Bank of Japan governor Kazuo Ueda reiterated inflation in Japan will fall below the central bank's 2% target toward the middle of the year, emphasizing that the BOJ will continue with monetary easing until price stability is achieved, Nikkei reported.
Ueda was speaking at the G7 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington.
He added that the risk of inflation falling below its target is greater than that of major problems stemming from an overshoot, highlighting the need to conduct policy accordingly.
Ueda's words were similar to the message that was delivered in his inaugural address when he emphasized his stance of maintaining the BOJ's yield curve control policy and its negative interest policy rates.
— Jihye Lee
China Internet ETF falls 3%, marks seventh negative day decline
China Internet ETF, or KWEB, fell more than 3% on Wall Street overnight and is on pace for the seventh day of declines.
Wednesday's session also marked the worst day for the ETF in more than a month, when KWEB lost about 5.5% on March 9.
Weibo, JD.com and Autohome were leading decliners, with all names seeing a month-to-date decline of roughly 11%.
— Gina Francolla, Jihye Lee
China's exports to fall further, imports expected to decline less
Exports in China are expected to see a year-on-year decline of 7%, steeper than the 6.8% seen in February, according to economists polled by Reuters.
Imports are expected to fall 5%, declining less than the 10.2% seen in the previous month, a Reuters poll showed.
In U.S. dollars, China's trade balance is expected to reach a surplus of more than $39 billion after seeing a surplus of $116 billion last month.
The offshore Chinese yuan slightly strengthened to 6.8790 against the U.S. dollar in Asia's morning.
— Jihye Lee
CNBC Pro: HDFC Bank vs. SBI? This strategist names his favorite stock pick among Indian banks
Despite the benefits of heavy deposit flows and strong deposit growth in a slow growth environment, State Bank of India (SBI) has seen its stock price fall year-to-date due to its controversial exposure to Adani.
Meanwhile, HDFC Bank shares are up 4% this year.
However, only one of the two banks has a buy rating from nearly all analysts.
— Ganesh Rao
South Korea export, import prices fall further in March
South Korea saw its export and import prices fall further in March.
Export prices fell by 6.4% for the month after seeing a decline of 2.7% in the previous month. Export prices fell for seven consecutive months and lost the most since October 2020.
Import prices saw a decline of 6.9% in March, falling steeper than February's decline of 0.5%, government data showed. That marked 11 consecutive months of declines in import prices and falling by the most since January 2021.
— Jihye Lee
CNBC Pro: Morgan Stanley's Slimmon names 'attractively priced' stocks to beat the economic uncertainty
Morgan Stanley's Andrew Slimmon expects an economic slowdown in the U.S. will happen later than many have predicted.
The senior portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley Investment Management names stocks to buy and avoid in the face of market uncertainty.
— Weizhen Tan
Fed's Barkin says there's still 'a ways to go' on inflation
In an interview with CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," Richmond Federal Reserve President Thomas Barkin said that, while peak inflation may be behind the U.S., "we still have a ways to go."
He pointed to still-elevated inflation in shelter and services. "If you want to get to 2% [inflation], I think we're still a ways from there."
— Fred Imbert
Warren Buffett says he could not run the Federal Reserve as well as Jerome Powell
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett said he doesn't think he could run the Federal Reserve as well as Jerome Powell. The central bank leader's aggressive rate hiking campaign has attracted criticism from those who say Powell waited too long to target rising inflation.
"You have to act on insufficient information, and you've got an ultimate responsibility to the American public," Buffett told CNBC's Becky Quick Wednesday on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
"It doesn't mean you can stop recessions, it doesn't mean that you can turn bad loans into good loans or anything else. But it does mean that you've got to keep the system working. And the system came close to stopping," he added.
He added, "Thank heavens, you know, Jay Powell was there" in March 2020.
— Sarah Min, Alex Harring
Stocks open higher after CPI
Stocks rose at Wednesday's open, as traders digested the latest U.S. consumer price index data.
The Dow gained more than 100 points, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq gained 0.5% and 0.8%, respectively.
— Fred Imbert