China stocks pare losses as central bank holds rates; Taiwan stocks rise after elections

Lim Hui Jie
Shreyashi Sanyal

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

Local newspapers with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) victory in the presidential election on the front pages remain on the counter at the reception of an office building in Taipei on January 14, 2024. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)

Mainland China's market pared losses from earlier in the session Monday, after the country's central bank left its medium-term policy loans rate unchanged, while Taiwan stocks rose after voters handed the ruling Democratic Progressive Party a third-straight presidential term.

Mainland China's CSI 300 index closed 0.1% lower at 3,280.91 after falling about 0.5% at open, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.26%.

The People's Bank of China surprised markets and held the rate on some 995 billion yuan ($138.84 billion) worth of one-year medium-term lending facility (MLF) loans, keeping it unchanged at 2.50%

The Taiwan Weighted index rose 0.19% to close at 17,546.82 after the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's Lai Ching-te won the presidential election on Saturday, with more than 40% of the popular vote.

Investors will be closely watching China's fourth-quarter gross domestic numbers due on Wednesday, while Japan will release inflation figures for December on Friday.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell marginally, ending at 7,496.3.

Japan's Nikkei 225 continued its record-breaking run and crossed the 36,000 mark briefly during the session, with the index closing 0.91% higher at 35,901.79, while the Topix also touched new highs, gaining 1.22% to finish at 2,524.6.

South Korea's Kospi ended marginally above the flatline at 2,525.99, snapping its eight-day losing streak, while the small-cap Kosdaq fell nearly 1% and closed at 859.71.

.N225Nikkei 225 IndexNIKKEI39,523.55+80.92+0.21%
.HSIHang Seng IndexHSI16,721.69-373.34-2.18%
.AXJOS&P/ASX 200ASX 2007,788.10-25.50-0.33%
.KS11KOSPI IndexKOSPI2,681.82-25.14-0.93%
.FTFCNBCACNBC 100 ASIA IDXCNBC 1009,373.19-78.90-0.83%

U.S. stock and bond markets will be closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Day.

On Friday in the U.S., all three major indexes ended mixed as the fourth-quarter earnings season got under way, with four Big Banks posting downbeat results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.31%, but the S&P 500 ended the day 0.08% higher and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite closed just above the flatline, gaining 0.02%.

— CNBC's Pia Singh and Alex Harring contributed to this report

Mon, Jan 15 2024 12:48 AM EST

India's Nifty 50 hits all-time high after breaching 22,000; Sensex crosses 73,000 for the first time

India's stock markets started the week with a rally, as the benchmark Nifty 50 index hit a record high at 22,081.95. The index was last up 0.63%.

The BSE Sensex index crossed 73,000 for the first time, trading 0.76% higher on Monday.

The Sensex was up about 18.7% in 2023, while the Nifty was higher by about 20% in the same period. Indian stocks rallied to new highs last year on the back of strong growth prospects, higher domestic participation and optimism ahead of the general elections.

Indian IT companies led the charge for the day.

See Chart...

— Shreyashi Sanyal

Sun, Jan 14 2024 11:59 PM EST

Taiwan's new president Lai Ching-te could face 'a lot of headwinds' in the days to come

Taiwan's new president-elect Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party could face challenges in his term as he is seen as a "die-hard separatist" by China, Zhou Bo, senior fellow at Tsinghua University, told CNBC.

"Lai will have a lot of headwinds in the days and the years to come, because he's widely considered a die-hard separatist in the eyes of mainland China," said Zhou on CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" Monday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China's "reunification" with Taiwan is inevitable, as Beijing frames the election as a choice between "peace and war, prosperity and decline."

"For peace to be maintained in the Taiwan Strait, it requires effort from both Washington and even the DPP. But for peace to prevail, it has to lead to mainland China to believe that peace is still possible," said Zhou.

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The Taiwan Weighted Exchange was 0.37% higher at 1:02 p.m. Hong Kong time on Monday, two days after Taiwan voters handed the ruling DPP a third straight presidency.

– Sheila Chiang

Sun, Jan 14 2024 11:50 PM EST

Cocoa prices hit 46-year high as production concerns mount

Cocoa jumped to its highest in 46 years as supply concerns continue to mount. Cocoa futures surged to $4,323 per metric ton, the highest since September 1977, according to data from FactSet.

Cocoa prices notched large gains last year after West African supplies were hit hard by heavy rains amid other issues including fungal disease.

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Cocoa prices rise to 46-year high

BMI, a Fitch Solutions research unit, is not expecting significant relief in these supply constraints in 2024. In a recent research note, analysts estimate that cocoa production and quality from main producers Ivory Coast and Ghana could continue to be compromised due to "earlier excess rainfall and crop disease."

— Lee Ying Shan

Sun, Jan 14 2024 9:46 PM EST

Baidu shares tumble after Friday report that China's military tested AI system on Ernie

Shares of Chinese tech firm Baidu slumped over 8% on Monday, following a report in the South China Morning Post that China's military had tested its AI system on Baidu's Ernie Bot, which uses large language models similar to ChatGPT.

The report, which came out late Friday, said that "Chinese scientists are teaching an experimental military artificial intelligence more about facing unpredictable human enemies with the help of ChatGPT-like technologies."

Citing scientists involved in the project, SCMP reported that a research laboratory with the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Strategic Support Force tested the AI system on Baidu's Ernie and iFlyTek's Spark.

The PLASSF is the space, cyber, and electronic warfare force of the Chinese military.

In response to SCMP, Baidu said Saturday it "has no affiliation or other partnership with the academic institution in question."

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— Lim Hui Jie

Mon, Jan 15 2024 2:08 AM EST

China central bank surprises markets by holding MLF rate steady

A man walks past the People's Bank of China (PBOC) building on July 20, 2023 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jiang Qiming/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

China's central bank left its medium-term policy loans rate unchanged in a surprise move on Monday, but continued to inject liquidity.

The People's Bank of China said in a release that it held the rate at 2.50% on some 995 billion yuan ($138.84 billion) worth of one-year medium-term lending facility (MLF) loans.

A Reuters poll had expected the PBOC to cut the MLF rate.

A cut in the MLF would have helped boost China's economic recovery.

The CSI 300 index pared some earlier losses to fall about 0.29% following the decision.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

Sun, Jan 14 2024 8:30 PM EST

Taiwan stocks rise after China skeptic Lai Ching-te wins presidential race

Taiwan Vice President and presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party Lai Ching-te (center) greets supporters during his campaign motorcade tour in Kaohsiung on January 8, 2024, ahead of the presidential election.

The Taiwan Weighted index started the week 0.5% higher after Lai Ching-te won the island's presidential election on Saturday.

Lai helped secure the Democratic Progressive Party its third straight victory. Seen as a strong China skeptic, Lai won by more than 40% of the popular vote and said he was "determined to safeguard Taiwan from threats and intimidation from China." 

Beijing, which has often labelled Lai as a "stubborn worker for Taiwan independence" and a dangerous separatist, dismissed his victory.

Lai has vowed to remain open-minded in his governing style, but his government is yet to form a parliamentary majority. His victory also sparked worries about frosty China-U.S. relations as well as security in the broader Indo-Pacific region.

Taiwan stocks rose over 26% in 2023, while China's CSI 300 index fell over 11% last year.

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— Shreyashi Sanyal

Sun, Jan 14 2024 7:11 PM EST

CNBC Pro: These are Wall Street's top picks for semiconductor stocks this year

Semiconductor stocks had a good year in 2023, bouncing back from the post-pandemic underperformance of 2022.

The PHLX Semiconductor index (Sox) index surged 65% in 2023, well outpacing the S&P 500.

Banks such as BofA and UBS are still bullish on the semiconductor sector despite its strong run in 2023.

CNBC Pro scoured through recent Wall Street research in January to look for the top 2024 semiconductor picks that analysts named.

Subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

Sun, Jan 14 2024 7:10 PM EST

Goldman Sachs says it's time to buy this unloved global sector — and names some top stocks

Europe's utilities sector may have come under pressure over the past three years, but Goldman Sachs says a shift is underway, naming stocks to play the industry in 2024.

"We believe that the improved outlook on inflation and interest rates is likely to favor capital intensive/long duration assets, such as Renewable Energy (where the capital cycle also appears to have positively inflected, as evidenced by rising returns) and Power Grids (where the market appears to be overlooking the incremental organic growth opportunities)," the bank's analysts wrote.

The investment bank named a bunch of stocks it expects to rise by 30%.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Amala Balakrishner

Fri, Jan 12 2024 3:26 PM EST

U.S. crude prices fade after spiking on strikes against Houthi militants

U.S. crude oil prices on Friday followed a familiar pattern in response to mounting Middle East tensions, briefly spiking on the latest escalation before fading later in the day.

West Texas Intermediate futures briefly broke $75 a barrel after U.S. and British airstrike on Houthi militants in Yemen, put pulled back later in the session to settle $72.68. Brent futures broke $80 a barrel before settling at $78.29.

Several tanker companies on Friday halted traffic toward the Red Sea after the airstrikes. But traders still do not seem convinced that a broader Middle East conflict could erupt and disrupt crude supplies. Analysts say the Strait of Hormuz is the real potential flashpoint that could send prices higher.

"The market is going to wait to see whether we see this spread to a significant waterway for oil like the Strait of Hormuz," Helima Croft with RBC Capital Markets told CNBC on Friday.

— Spencer Kimball

Fri, Jan 12 2024 8:36 AM EST

PPI falls unexpectedly in December

The producer price index was dipped 0.1% in December, a sign that inflation may be easing. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a gain of 0.1%.

— Fred Imbert

Fri, Jan 12 2024 11:05 AM EST

Citigroup announces job cuts after posting $1.8 billion fourth-quarter loss

Shares of Citigroup were fractionally higher on Friday after CEO Jane Fraser announced a new wave of job cuts to boost the bank's stock price and earnings results.

Citigroup said that 20,000 employees, or around 10% of its workforce, would be let go in the "medium term" as part of a new corporate overhaul. Shares had earlier gained nearly 2% on the back of the news.

The layoff announcement was made after the bank posted a $1.8 billion loss in its fourth-quarter, which was tied to various risks and expenses. The company's fourth-quarter revenue came in at $17.44 billion, lower than the $18.75 billion expected by analysts polled by LSEG.

— Lisa Kailai Han

Fri, Jan 12 2024 7:29 AM EST

JPMorgan Chase shares rise even after profit decline

JPMorgan Chase shares were up more than 2% in the premarket even after the bank reported a fourth-quarter profit decline due to a $2.9 billion fee related to last year's regional bank failures.

Specifically, the bank said earnings dropped 15% to 9.31 billion on a year-over-year basis.

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JPM rises

— Fred Imbert, Hugh Son

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