Most Asia markets dip; South Korea stocks erase more than half of early week gains

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

A man passes by an electronic board showing the stock indexes in Tokyo, Japan, Oct. 15, 2020. (Photo by Du Xiaoyi/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi via Getty Images)
Du Xiaoyi | Xinhua News Agency | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Most Asia-Pacific markets fell in choppy trading on Wednesday, with South Korea's benchmark index wiping out more than half the gains made earlier this week, while investors digested a positive business sentiment survey from Japan.

South Korea's Kospi dropped 3.24% in the two sessions since Monday when it had gained over 5% after the country re-imposed a ban on short selling.

The Reuters Tankan poll showed Japanese manufacturers' business confidence improved for the first time since August and service-sector mood rose for a second month, underscoring a challenging outlook amid a patchy economic recovery.

In South Korea, the Kospi closed down 0.91% to end at the 2,421.62 level. The Kosdaq slipped 1.62% to 811.02.

Japan's Nikkei 225 ended 0.33% lower at 32,166.48, while the Topix fell 1.16% to close at 2,305.95.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.26% higher at 6,995.40.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended 0.58% at 17,568.46 while China's CSI 300 index slipped 0.24% to close at 3,611.07.

Wall Street's main indexes closed higher on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite clocking their longest winning streaks in nearly two years.

The S&P 500 closed 0.28% higher, while the Nasdaq jumped 0.9%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.17% at close.

The S&P 500 rose for a seventh consecutive day for the first time since its eight-day win streak in November 2021. The Nasdaq posted eight days of wins for the first time since an 11-day streak ended in November 2021. The Dow rose for a seventh straight session for its longest streak since July.

— CNBC's Samantha Subin and Brian Evans contributed to this report

New Zealand's inflation expectations fall to two-year low in fourth quarter

New Zealand's inflation forecast dropped to a two-year low in the fourth quarter, a Reserve Bank of New Zealand survey showed.

The RBNZ's two-year inflation expectations, viewed as roughly the time frame when the central bank's monetary policy action will translate to prices, fell to 2.76% from 2.83% in the previous quarter ending September.

The annual price increases for one-year-ahead was expected to cool to 3.60%, from 4.17% previously.

One-year-ahead expectation for annual wage inflation was 4.43%, down from 5.04% in the third quarter, while the two-year-ahead expectation for annual wage inflation was at 3.53%, lower than the last quarter's 3.66%.

The survey highlights that the central bank's interest rate hiking cycle has shown signs of bringing down price pressures. The RBNZ will hold its next policy meeting on Nov. 29.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

Japan business sentiment improves as Reuters Tankan survey shows rise in November

Confidence among large Japanese manufacturers rose in November, according to the Reuters Tankan survey, which measures business sentiment among large Japanese companies.

This is the first time that the index improved since August, while service-sector mood rose for a second month.

Manufacturers' sentiment index rose to +6 in November versus +4 in October, and the service-sector index was at +27 above +24 last month.

The survey underscored a patchy economic recovery and a challenging outlook for Japan manufacturers.

It also mirrored a similar improvement seen in the Bank of Japan's closely watched quarterly tankan survey.

A positive figure means that optimistic respondents outnumber pessimists, and vice versa.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

CNBC Pro: These are the stocks that will benefit — and lose out — from the wellness trend, Morgan Stanley says

From nutrition to beauty, a "global shift to wellness" is taking place — not just among consumers but also governments, Morgan Stanley says.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a big factor behind the rising focus on weight and its implications for health, the investment bank noted, though it added that wellness goes beyond weight loss and also encompasses fitness, nutrition, appearance, sleep and mindfulness.

CNBC Pro takes a look at the stocks Morgan Stanley says will be affected — both positively and negatively.

Subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

CNBC Pro: ‘The gift that keeps on giving’: Morgan Stanley likes the memory sector and picks its top stocks

The tech theme has been reigning supreme this year and one segment in particular stands out to Morgan Stanley: the memory sector.

Calling it "the gift that keeps on giving," the investment bank notes that the sector's "pricing power is now among the best in tech, and still in early recovery stage."

The bank reveals its "top picks" and "preferred plays."

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Amala Balakrishner

Soft landing could fuel 15% rally in global equities, HSBC says

Global equities look situated for a significant rally in the new year should central banks begin easing monetary policy and the Federal Reserve manage a soft landing, according to HSBC.

"We expect global equity markets to climb higher and forecast 15% upside by end-2024," said Alastair Pinder in a note to clients. "But, against a backdrop of slowing economic growth and declining interest rates, we think market breadth will increasingly narrow, with a large proportion of the market treading water, while US supremacy will likely continue."

In recent instances where the Fed has engineered a soft landing, the S&P 500 has rallied 22% on average between the pause in hikes, and six months after the bank's begun cutting, he noted.

Given this setup, Pinder favors technology and consumer discretionary sectors, believing that risks look better priced following the recent pullback in equities.

— Samantha Subin

Fed’s Goolsbee says 'golden path' is still possible

Chicago Federal Reserve President Austan Goolsbee said Tuesday a soft landing is still on the table as the central bank seeks to combat inflation without hurting the economy significantly.

"Because of some of the strangeness of this moment, there is the possibility of the golden path ... that we got inflation down without a recession," Goolsbee said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

 Goolsbee said the drop in price pressures might equal the fastest decline in inflation in the last century.

— Yun Li

U.S. crude falls below $78 a barrel to lowest level since July

U.S. crude prices have fallen nearly 4% to their lowest level since July, as weak economic data overshadows concerns that the Israel-Hamas war could erupt into a broader regional conflict.

West Texas Intermediate was down $3.09, or 3.82%, at $77.73 a barrel, while Brent fell $3.19, or 3.75%, to $81.99 a barrel, both at their lowest prices since July.

The drop came after China's exports fell more than expected in October, indicating softening global demand.

-- Spencer Kimball

Market rally may be fleeting, Wolfe Research says

Wolfe Research strategist Rob Ginsberg noted that the early November rally could soon stall out, if the trading action from earlier in the year is any indication.

"Each rally since the July peak has stalled out before making a fresh 1-month high, before rolling over to a new 1-month low…the definition of a downtrend," Ginsberg said.

To be sure, he also noted that some momentum indicators "inflected positive for all of the indices (last week), and today we see it being confirmed at the stock level."

— Fred Imbert