Asia markets fall on Fed rate hike concerns; Singapore exports plunge

Jihye Lee
Lim Hui Jie

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

Singapore central business district sunrise.

Asia Pacific markets traded lower on Friday as investors digested more economic data out of the U.S. and more hawkish commentary from the Federal Reserve.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.86% lower at 7,346.8 as Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe reiterated warnings of inflation risks and hinted at further hikes ahead.

In South Korea, the Kospi closed 0.98% lower at 2,451.21 and the Kosdaq fell 1.16% to 775.62, while in Japan, the Nikkei 225 ended the day 0.66% lower 27,513.13 and the Topix shed 0.46% to 1,991.93.

Chinese markets also were traded lower on Friday. In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component fell 1.6% to close at 11,715.77, and the Shanghai Composite also was down 0.77% to finish at 3,224.02.

The Hang Seng index and Hang Seng Tech index traded 1.25% and 2.42% lower respectively after the release of its 2022 census and unemployment data on Thursday.

.N225Nikkei 225 IndexNIKKEI32,775.82UNCHUNCH
.HSIHang Seng IndexHSI16,327.86UNCHUNCH
.AXJOS&P/ASX 200ASX 2007,092.30+30.70+0.43%
.FTFCNBCACNBC 100 ASIA IDXCNBC 1008,274.42-126.33-1.50%

Singapore's non-oil domestic exports fell further by 25% in January on an annualized basis, marking its fourth consecutive month of contraction. The Straits Times index pared earlier losses and traded 0.31% higher. The Singapore dollar weakened 0.27% to 1.34 against the greenback.

Thailand's gross domestic product for the whole of 2022 grew 2.6%, higher than the 1.6% recorded in 2021. Fourth quarter GDP growth came in at 1.4% on an annualized basis, down from 4.5% the same period a year ago.

Overnight on Wall Street, stocks fell after the U.S. saw its producer price index - a measure of what raw goods fetch on the open market - rise 0.7% for the month, the biggest increase since June. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 1.26%, the S&P 500 dipped 1.38% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.78%.

— CNBC's Jeff Cox, Carmen Reinicke and Sarah Min contributed to this report.

Fri, Feb 17 2023 2:30 AM EST

South Korea warns of continued economic slowdown: Yonhap

South Korea's finance ministry said the economy has slowed amid higher inflation and sluggish exports, Yonhap reported.

The ministry said "South Korea's inflation remains at a high plateau, and domestic consumption recovery is slowing down. A persistent slump in exports and deteriorating business sentiment indicate an economic downturn".

The finance ministry expects the country's economy to grow 1.6%, lower than 2022's figure of 2.6 "because of deteriorating external conditions," the report said.

South Korea's trade deficit in January reached a record high of US$12.69 billion, marking the 11th straight month of losses. Consumer prices rose 5.2% in January on an annualized basis.

— Lim Hui Jie

Fri, Feb 17 2023 12:10 AM EST

China Renaissance shares plunge after it says founder is missing

Shares of Hong Kong-listed China Renaissance plunged by more than 20% Friday after the investment bank and fund manager said it was unable to reach founder and controlling shareholder Bao Fan.

China Renaissance said its business was operating normally.

Chinese financial news outlet Caixin pointed out that in September, an executive who was then chair of a China Renaissance subsidiary was called in by regulators for a probe over corporate governance violations.

See Chart...

— Evelyn Cheng

Thu, Feb 16 2023 10:37 PM EST

Thailand GDP growth for 2022 comes in lower than expected

Thailand's gross domestic product for the fourth quarter of 2022 expanded at just 1.4% on an annualized basis, sharply lower than the 4.6% recorded in the same a year ago.

This was also lower than economists expectations, who had forecasted a 3.5% expansion.

On a quarterly basis, fourth quarter GDP fell by 1.5%, in contrast to economists predicting growth of 0.5%.

Thailand's economy for the whole of 2022 grew at 2.6%, higher than the 1.5% in 2021.

The Thai baht weakened slightly after the release of the results, trading against the U.S. dollar at 34.53.

— Lim Hui Jie

Thu, Feb 16 2023 10:15 PM EST

GoTo Group accelerates profit timeline, shares jumps about 5%

Shares of Indonesia's GoTo Group jumped as much as 4.96% in Friday's morning trade as the group accelerated its timeline for profitability targets ahead of its full-year 2022 earnings release.

The group, made up of ride-hailing giant Gojek and e-commerce marketplace Tokopedia, expects adjusted earnings to become positive by end 2023, according to the release.

Group contribution margin, which shows revenue after variable costs, is also expected to turn positive within the first quarter of 2023, four quarters ahead of its initial plan. The group is slated to release its latest earnings report in March.

Last week, the company unveiled a new leadership team to drive the business towards profitability, as it accumulated higher nine-month losses from January to September 2022 than a year ago.

GoTo, as well as Grab and Sea Limited, have been racing to cut costs and stem losses.

- Sheila Chiang

Thu, Feb 16 2023 8:18 PM EST

Singapore non-oil domestic exports fall 25% in January, further than expectations

Singapore's non-oil domestic exports in January saw a 25% drop as compared to a year ago, following the 20.6% fall recorded in December 2022.

The drop was steeper than economists polled by Reuters had expected estimated forecasting a 22% drop on an annualized basis.

Meanwhile non-oil re-exports fell 10.4% in January, following the 7.2% decline in December.

Total trade also fell by 10.4% with total exports dropping 9.6% and imports contracting by 11.3%

See Chart...

— Lim Hui Jie

Thu, Feb 16 2023 9:12 PM EST

Standard Chartered expects China's economy to grow 5.8% this year

Standard Chartered expects China's economy to expand by 5.8% this year, CEO Bill Winters said in an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe."

"We're expecting China to grow 5.8% this year, obviously coming back from quite a difficult Covid period," Winters told CNBC's Geoff Cutmore, adding that "Hong Kong is back to life."

"The recession outlook does look a bit tough in the west, [but] the markets where we do the bulk of our business Asia, Africa and the Middle East, are looking pretty good," he said.

China's economy grew by 3% in 2022, according to data released in January.

— Jihye Lee, Hannah Ward-Glenton

Thu, Feb 16 2023 7:54 PM EST

CNBC Pro: This semiconductor stock is soaring — and is set to rise another 20%, Morgan Stanley says

Investor interest in the semiconductor sector has rebounded in recent months with the iShares Semiconductor ETF up nearly 50% from its October lows.

2023 will be a "recovery year" for semiconductors, according to Morgan Stanley, and the bank has raised its price target on one "high quality" chip stock.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

Thu, Feb 16 2023 7:55 PM EST

CNBC Pro: We’re ‘a long way’ from this rally’s top, says Morgan Stanley’s Slimmon, who names stocks to buy

Have markets hit "peak pessimism"? Morgan Stanley Investment Management's Andrew Slimmon says that stocks are set to rally further.

"With the [S&P 500] up 8% [year-to-date], some of that pessimism has started to recede but we are a long way from the top in this rally," he said.

He also named three stocks to buy.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

Thu, Feb 16 2023 7:23 PM EST

Australia central bank chief warns of 'damaging' and 'corrosive' high inflation

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe warned of the risks that high inflation will have on the country if it is not brought under control in a timely manner.

Speaking to the standing committee on economics in Australia's House of Representatives , Lowe noted that inflation in the country had reached 7.8% in December 2022, the highest rate since 1990.

Calling high inflation "damaging" and "corrosive", Lowe also noted that "It would be dangerous, indeed, not to contain and reverse this period of high inflation."

"If we don't get on top of inflation and bring it down in a timely way, the end result will be even higher interest rates and more unemployment in the future," he added.

— Lim Hui Jie

Thu, Feb 16 2023 7:17 PM EST

Asia currencies weaker as concerns over more Fed hikes grow

Currencies in the Asia-Pacific traded at weaker levels on Friday morning on concerns of more U.S. rate hikes to come.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.16% to 134.16 against the U.S. dollar, South Korea's won also weakened 0.16% to 1,291.53 against the greenback.

The Australian dollar fell 0.22% to 0.6862 and the Chinese yuan weakened 0.1% to 6.8760 against the U.S. dollar.

— Jihye Lee

Thu, Feb 16 2023 7:07 PM EST

Pentagon’s top China official to visit Taiwan: Financial Times

The U.S. Department of Defense's Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, Michael Chase will visit Taiwan amid growing tensions between the two countries over a suspected spy balloon from China, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar.

He would be the first senior official from the Pentagon to visit Taiwan after Heino Klinck, the report said, who visited in 2019 and marking the most senior-level trip in four decades.

Chase is now in Mongolia for military discussions, the report said.

— Jihye Lee

Thu, Feb 16 2023 3:48 AM EST

Standard Chartered ‘absolutely not’ for sale, bank CEO says

Standard Chartered is "absolutely not" for sale according to the bank's CEO.

Bill Winters told CNBC's Geoff Cutmore Thursday that a potential sale is not what the company is focused on.

"On the right terms, somebody wants to come and thinks that they can so something, I would encourage engagement rather than ... speculation through the press," he said on CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe."

The comments come after First Abu Dhabi Bank said Friday that it was not evaluating an offer for Standard Chartered.

The full story can be read here.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Thu, Feb 16 2023 1:56 PM EST

Fed's James Bullard sees possible half-point rate hike ahead

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said Thursday that he pushed for a higher interest rate increase at the last meeting and could see a more aggressive move ahead.

The policymaker said he advocated for a half percentage point rate increase at the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Fed meeting and said he wouldn't rule out pushing for one at the March session.

"I was an advocate for a 50-basis-point hike and I argued that we should get to the level of rates the committee viewed as sufficiently restrictive as soon as we could," Bullard said during a speech in Tennessee, according to Reuters.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester also said Thursday she wanted a higher increase than the quarter-point approved by the Federal Open Market Committee. Neither Mester nor Bullard vote this year on the FOMC.

Bullard added that he sees the larger economic trend moving toward disinflation, despite recent high readings for inflation.

"In part due to front-loaded Fed policy during 2022, market-based measures of inflation expectations are now relatively low," Bullard said.

"Continued policy rate increases can help lock in a disinflationary trend during 2023, even with ongoing growth and strong labor markets, by keeping inflation expectations low," he added.

The comments come despite separate data releases this week showing that both consumer and producer prices increased more than expected in January. Bullard acknowledged that inflation is still too high, but said higher interest rates will keep it in check despite continued economic growth and a robust labor market.

"These factors may combine to make 2023 a disinflationary year," Bullard said.

—Jeff Cox

Thu, Feb 16 2023 4:03 PM EST

Dow falls to daily low in final minutes of trading, stocks close lower

Stocks sold off sharply in the final minutes of trading Thursday, sending the Dow to a fresh daily low. All three indexes ended the day lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 431 points, or 1.26%. The S&P 500 dipped 1.38% and the Nasdaq-Composite fell 1.78%. Microsoft and Disney contributed the most to the Dow's decline, down more than 2% each.

—Carmen Reinicke

Thu, Feb 16 2023 8:38 AM EST

Wholesale prices rise more than expected in January

The producer price index, an inflation indicator that tracks wholesale prices, rose 0.7% in January, topping a Dow Jones consensus forecast for a 0.4% increase.

This is the latest inflation report this week to come in above expectations. On Tuesday, the Labor Department said the consumer price index — a widely followed inflation gauge — rose 0.5% last month. That surpassed a consensus estimate of 0.4%.

— Jeff Cox

Thu, Feb 16 2023 8:53 AM EST

Weekly jobless claims show a surprise dip

Initial claims for unemployment benefits dipped 1,000 to 194,000 for the week ended Feb. 11, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Dow Jones had forecast jobless claims at 200,000.

The number from the prior week was revised to 195,000 from 196,000, according to the Labor Department.

The labor market has remained resilient even amid the Federal Reserve's series of interest rate hikes.

— Yun Li

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