Asia markets mostly higher; Thailand's election results in focus, baht strengthens

Jihye Lee
Lim Hui Jie

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

Bangkok, Thailand.

Asia-Pacific markets were mostly higher on Monday, even as two out of three major U.S. indexes recorded a second straight week of losses, fueled by concern over the U.S. debt ceiling and disappointing economic data.

Thailand's currency strengthened against the greenback as the country's opposition party was on course to secure a win in its general election, ending nearly a decade of conservative ruled backed by the military.

Thailand's Set Composite briefly traded 0.3% higher at the open on Monday before paring gains and was last trading about 0.92% lower. Thailand's gross domestic product grew 2.7% year on year, more than expected.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index led gains in the region and climbed 1.62% in its final hour of trade, while mainland markets were also higher. The Shenzhen Component gained 1.57% to close at 11,178.62 and the Shanghai Composite advanced 1.17% to end at 3,310.74.

Japan's Nikkei 225 was up 0.81% to end the day at 29,626.34, with the Topix 0.88% higher to finish at 2,114.85. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.14% to close at 7,267.1.

In South Korea, markets were mixed as the Kospi climbed 0.16% to end at 2,479.35, while the Kosdaq closed 0.96% lower at 814.53.

.N225Nikkei 225 IndexNIKKEI30,622.20+95.32+0.31%
.HSIHang Seng IndexHSI17,195.84UNCHUNCH
.AXJOS&P/ASX 200ASX 2006,890.60+0.40+0.01%
.KS11KOSPI IndexKOSPI2,415.03+9.34+0.39%
.FTFCNBCACNBC 100 ASIA IDXCNBC 1007,896.68+11.45+0.15%

In the U.S., all three major indexes ended Friday lower, with the tech heavy Nasdaq Composite down 0.35%. The S&P 500 slipped 0.16% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched down 0.03%.

On a weekly basis, the S&P 500 and Dow fell for a second consecutive week, down 0.29% and 1.11%, respectively. The Nasdaq gained 0.4% as U.S. President Joe Biden and congressional leaders postponed a meeting on its debt ceiling set for Friday to the following week.

— CNBC's Brian Evans and Sarah Min contributed to this report

Sun, May 14 2023 11:58 PM EDT

Adani Enterprises, Adani Transmission to seek to raise $2.6 billion

Two Adani Group companies announced that it will seek to raise a combined total of roughly $2.6 billion through share sales to qualified institutional investors.

Separate filings in the Bombay Stock Exchange showed Adani Enterprises will seek to raise $1.53 billion while Adani Transmission will seek to raise up to $1 billion.

The plans are seen to be a test for investors appetite after Adani Enterprises postponed its $2.5 billion equity sale after Hindenburg's short-seller report accused the companies of brazen stock manipulation and fraud.

— Jihye Lee

Sun, May 14 2023 11:33 PM EDT

Thailand's economy grows 2.7% in first quarter

Thailand's gross domestic product for the first quarter grew 2.7% year-on-year, beating expectations of a 2.3% rise.

On a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis, Thailand's economy grew 1.9% in the first quarter of the year.

The economy was driven by the "robust growth" of export of services and private consumption, along with the continual expansion of both private and public investment, its economic and social development council said.

The export of goods and government expenditure, meanwhile, fell.

Growth was also seen in the accommodation and food service activities sector, as well as the transportation and storage sector.

— Lim Hui Jie

Sun, May 14 2023 11:30 PM EDT

Thailand stocks rise at open, pare gains in first hour of trade

The Set Index briefly gained more than 0.3% at the open on Monday before paring gains and last traded 0.3% lower.

Shares of energy supplier Gulf Energy Development and convenience store operator CP All led losses in Thailand, trading roughly 0.1% lower.

Power supplies exporter Delta Electronics Thailand and airports management company Airports of Thailand led gains alongside PTT Exploration and Production and Energy Absolute.

Logistics company WICE Logistics fell 3.39%, construction company Seafco lost 3.21% and agriculture company Lee Feed Mill shed 0.87%.

— Jihye Lee

Sun, May 14 2023 10:03 PM EDT

Thai baht rallies against dollar as opposition parties make significant gains in election

The Thai baht rallied on Monday, strengthening 0.6% to 33.73 against the U.S. dollar as Thailand's opposition parties look set to be the biggest winners in Sunday's general election.

See Chart...

The baht hovered at its strongest levels since February earlier this year when it was trading below the 33.5 threshold.

The currency saw its recent weakest point in October last year as the U.S. Federal Reserve continued its tightening cycle to above 38.3 against the greenback, the weakest the Thai currency had been since August 2006, Refinitiv data showed.

The Thai currency bucked weakness seen across the FX market among Asian currencies on Monday, with the Japanese yen weakening by 0.06% to 135.79 against the U.S. dollar and the onshore Chinese yuan comparatively flat.

Citi economist Nalin Chutchotitham said Thailand's medium-term economic outlook "could see increased risks of populist economic policies which could raise questions on future fiscal discipline," she wrote in a Sunday note.

— Jihye Lee

Sun, May 14 2023 9:20 PM EDT

South Korea trade deficit narrows for fourth straight month

South Korea trade deficit narrowed for a fourth straight month to a revised figure of $2.65 billion in April, a Monday release showed, slightly higher than the preliminary figure of $2.62 billion released earlier this month.

The latest reading follows a deficit of $4.74 billion seen in March and marks the 14th straight month of the nation's trade balance remaining deficit territory, in which imports exceed the amount of exports.

The revised figure was also lower than the $2.89 billion deficit expected by economists polled by Reuters.

April's exports came in at $49.58 billion, a 14.3% decline compared to April last year, while imports stood at $52.23 billion, down 13.3% year-on-year.

Trade in the first ten days of May also indicated exports fell by 10.1% while imports also fell by 5.7%, a separate release from last Thursday showed.

— Lim Hui Jie

Sun, May 14 2023 8:23 PM EDT

Asia week ahead: Thai GDP, China data, Philippines central bank, G-7 summit

Economic data releases and a Group of Seven summit in Japan will be the highlights of this week's events in the Asia-Pacific.

On Monday, Thailand's gross domestic product for the first quarter will be released in the morning. Economists at Goldman Sachs expect the economy to post a 1.8% quarter-on-quarter growth as consumption picks up and inventories rebound amid slower factory activity.

China releases a slew of economic data on Tuesday: Industrial production, retail sales, fixed asset investment growth as well as unemployment rate. Compared to a low base seen in April a year ago, market watchers are largely expecting the economic indicators to reflect a rebound in growth.

Economists polled by Reuters forecast industrial output to grow by 10.1% year-on-year in April after posting growth of 3.9% the month before. They also see retail sales surging 20.1% for the month after the economy saw a jump of 10.6% in March.

Australia's central bank minutes as well as its first quarter wage price index will be released on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

New Zealand will unveil its annual budget for the year on Thursday, in which its finance minister has described as it focusing on returning to "a more sustainable fiscal position."

Philippines' central bank will meet and is widely expected keep its policy interest rate unchanged at 6.25% on Thursday, especially after the economy saw slight softening in its inflation print earlier this month.

If the central bank pauses its rate hike cycle, it would mark the first since March 2022.

— Jihye Lee

Sun, May 14 2023 9:17 PM EDT

CNBC Pro: UBS is betting on European banks over automakers right now. Here's why

European banking stocks are poised to outperform automakers in the foreseeable future, according to UBS.

The investment bank highlighted three structural changes that could drive significant gains for banking stocks over their automotive counterparts, despite similarities in their economic cycles.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more about those three reasons here.

— Ganesh Rao

Sun, May 14 2023 9:17 PM EDT

CNBC Pro: Bank of America loves these 10 unloved global stocks with major upside

Bank of America strategists have named the ten European stocks that they believe are currently undervalued and could provide significant investment returns.

These picks, which the investment bank refers to as the "Beat Factor Top 10," are primarily made up of industrial and financial companies.

One of the stocks offers more than 60% upside over the next 12 months, according to the investment bank.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

Fri, May 12 2023 12:33 PM EDT

17 S&P 500 stocks reach fresh highs

Seventeen stocks in the S&P 500 reached fresh highs on Friday, with many trading at all-time highs. Food companies were among the notable names.

New S&P 500 52-week highs:

  • O'Reilly Auto trading at all-time high levels back to its IPO in April 1993
  • PulteGroup trading at all-time highs back to its IPO in 1972
  • General Mills trading at all-time highs back to when it began trading on the NYSE in 1928
  • Pepsico trading at all-time highs back to Pepsi-Cola's merger with Frito-Lay in 1965 to form Pepsico
  • First Solar trading at levels not seen since September 2008

Meanwhile, there were 11 stocks reaching 52-week lows:

  • Match Group trading at all-time lows back to its IPO in November 2015
  • Organon trading at all-time lows back to its spin-off from Merck in June 2021

— Chris Hayes, Sarah Min

Fri, May 12 2023 10:14 AM EDT

Consumer sentiment drops more than expected in May

Consumers grew more pessimistic in May as persistently high inflation and troubles in the banking industry weighed on sentiment.

The University of Michigan's Survey of Consumers showed a reading of 57.7 for the month, down from 63.5 in April and below the Dow Jones consensus estimate of 63.

Inflation expectations for a year from now edged lower to 4.5% but rose on the five-year outlook to 3.2%, tied for the highest since June 2008.

—Jeff Cox

Fri, May 12 2023 9:04 AM EDT

Bitcoin heads toward its worst week of the year

Bitcoin is on pace to finish the week down 10.6%, which would make it its worst week since Nov. 11, in the days following the FTX collapse, according to Coin Metrics.

It was last trading down more than 1% at $26,416.31. Earlier, it hit a low of %26,138.19, its lowest level since March 17. The crypto asset has been sliding all week as investors weighed a host of negative developments, including:

  • A false alarm suggesting the U.S. government's movement of bitcoin for potential sale, which triggered a wave of long liquidations;
  • Network congestion and higher fees, which led Binance to pause bitcoin withdrawals;
  • Market makers Jump and Jane Street announcing a reduction in their U.S. crypto operations, pressured by the regulatory crackdown and adding to the existing liquidity problem in crypto,
  • Uncertainties surrounding the U.S. debt ceiling and Federal Reserve policy.

Bitcoin has finished lower or less than 1% higher for the last six days. That itself could weigh on the mood, said Yuya Hasegawa, a crypto market analyst at Japanese bitcoin exchange Bitbank.

— Tanaya Macheel

Fri, May 12 2023 7:31 AM EDT

Fed's Michelle Bowman warns that more rate hikes could be needed

More interest rate increases may be needed if economic data doesn't show more convincing signs that inflation is coming down, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman said Friday.

"Should inflation remain high and the labor market remain tight, additional monetary policy tightening will likely be appropriate to attain a sufficiently restrictive stance of monetary policy to lower inflation over time," Bowman said in prepared remarks for a speech delivered in Frankfurt, Germany.

Even though consumer and producer price indexes this week showed that the annual pace of inflation cooled slightly in April, the central bank official said those numbers, combined with last week's nonfarm payrolls report, "have not provided consistent evidence that inflation is on a downward path."

—Jeff Cox

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