Japan's Nikkei hits a new record as inflation accelerates; Hong Kong stocks fall nearly 2%

Lim Hui Jie
Shreyashi Sanyal

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

A customer shops at a supermarket in Tokyo on Feb. 27, 2024.

Japan's Nikkei 225 briefly crossed 41,000 to hit a fresh all-time high on Friday as the country's inflation accelerated in February, while other Asia-Pacific markets declined.

Japan's headline inflation rate for February came in at 2.8%, climbing from the 2.2% seen in February. Core inflation — which strips out prices of fresh food — was at 2.8% compared with 2% in the previous month.

The BOJ, in its monetary policy statement on Tuesday said that "the price stability target of 2 percent would be achieved in a sustainable and stable manner."

However, the Nikkei retreated to close just below the 41,000 mark, ending up 0.18% at 40,888.43. The Topix also hit a fresh record, gaining 0.61% to 2,813.22.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index plunged as much as 3%, dragged by electric vehicle stocks, but pared losses and were last down 1.88%. Mainland China's CSI 300 fell 1.01% to close at 3,545.

The Hang Seng Tech index shed 3.18%, with shares of Li Auto plunging 10.44% on Friday after the EV maker cut its first-quarter deliveries forecast.

South Korea's Kospi closed 0.23% lower at 2,748.56 after leading gains in Asia on Thursday, while the small-cap Kosdaq was ended down 0.03% at 903.98.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.15% to 7,770.6, while the Taiwan Weighted Index traded close to the flatline after the central bank raised its policy rate in a surprise move on Thursday.

.N225Nikkei 225 IndexNIKKEI38,646.11-457.11-1.17%
.HSIHang Seng IndexHSI18,608.94-259.77-1.38%
.AXJOS&P/ASX 200ASX 2007,727.60-84.20-1.08%
.KS11KOSPI IndexKOSPI2,687.60-34.21-1.26%
.FTFCNBCACNBC 100 ASIA IDXCNBC 1009,682.40-96.73-0.99%

Overnight in the U.S., all three major indexes hit fresh records, continuing the rally from Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve held rates steady and maintained its rate cut forecast for 2024.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 269.24 points, or 0.68%, to close at 39,781.37. The S&P 500 advanced 0.32% to end at 5,241.53, while the Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.20% to finish at 16,401.84.

"People have faith in the Fed right now, and that cuts are coming," said Jay Woods, chief global strategist at Freedom Capital Markets. "We are in a good place, and the market believes in the smooth landing narrative. Whatever the Fed is saying continues to be the music to the ears of the market."

— CNBC's Samantha Subin and Alex Harring contributed to this report

Fri, Mar 22 2024 2:29 AM EDT

Emerging market tech opportunity can be found in South Korea and Taiwan, UBS says

It's time to diversify technology and AI exposure, and invest outside the U.S., according to Alejo Czerwonko of UBS Global Wealth Management.

"The bulk of the emerging market tech opportunity can be found in places like [South] Korea and Taiwan," he told CNBC, adding that these markets are "global tech champions."

For global tech firms, UBS expects revenue growth of 20% year-over-year in 2024, he said. That number may go up to 70% per year over the next five years for AI-specific companies globally, he added.

The Taiwan Weighted index hit an all-time high on Friday as investors were optimistic about the country's tech firms in the face of booming AI and semiconductor demand.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

Thu, Mar 21 2024 11:56 PM EDT

Yuan slides to four-month low, China's state banks reportedly intervene

A staff member counts Chinese Yuan at a bank's personal finance business service area in Haian, East China's Jiangsu province, Sept 15, 2023.

China's onshore and offshore yuan slipped to its weakest levels against the greenback since November 2023, with both metrics breaching the 7.2 level.

The onshore yuan last traded at 7.225, while the offshore yuan stood at 7.254.

Reuters reported that China's state banks were swapping dollars for yuan in a bid to arrest the slide.

— Lim Hui Jie, Reuters

Thu, Mar 21 2024 11:43 PM EDT

Li Auto plunges over 9% to lead decline in EVs, weighs down Hong Kong stocks

Hong Kong-listed shares of Li Auto plunged as much as 9.2% on Friday, weighing down the broader Hang Seng index.

The Chinese electric vehicle firm cut its deliveries outlook for the first quarter. It now expects to deliver between 76,000 and 78,000 vehicles, down from 100,000 to 103,000 units forecast earlier.

The Hang Seng index fell 2.7%, while the Hang Seng Tech index dropped 3.8%.

Other EV makers also declined — Xpeng dropped 8.3% and Nio fell 3%.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

Thu, Mar 21 2024 11:09 PM EDT

China's CSRC launches onsite inspections into mutual funds companies: Reuters

China's securities regulator has reportedly launched inspections into mutual fund companies, according to a Reuters report.

Reuters, citing local newspaper 21st Century Business Herald, said the inspections were conducted by local branches of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

These inspections covered daily operations, training, and Chinese Communist Party building, the newspaper said. It did not name the asset managers that were inspected.

Last week, China's state run Global Times reported that the CSRC had vowed to build a "textbook-style" supervision model to regulate China's $3.8 trillion mutual fund industry.

On Feb. 7, the CSRC appointed markets veteran Wu Qing — known as the "Broker Butcher" for his crackdown on traders — as chairman.

Fri, Mar 22 2024 12:21 AM EDT

CNBC Pro: 'Substantially affected by AI': RBC names 3 lesser-known stocks as beneficiaries

The rising demand for generative artificial intelligence has led to a surge in shares of many AI-linked companies like chipmaker Nvidia and ChatGPT backer Microsoft. Now, RBC Capital Markets has identified three lesser-known companies poised to cash in on the AI boom in a big way.

RBC noted that major cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are packing data centers — facilities that host computer servers — with tens of thousands of power-hungry AI chips, driving a surge in demand for infrastructure like cooling systems and electrical equipment.

To meet that demand, one of the companies identified by RBC is setting up facilities dubbed "AI factories."

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

Fri, Mar 22 2024 12:21 AM EDT

CNBC Pro: Want to play red hot gold prices? Buy these 3 stocks, says top hedge fund manager

After the U.S. Federal Reserve left rates unchanged and penciled in three rate cuts this year, gold prices soared as high as $2,222.39 per ounce - a new record high - earlier in Thursday's session.

Top hedge fund manager David Neuhauser is predicting the price of gold to reach $2,500 by the end of 2025, and $3,000 by 2030.

Even in this environment, not all gold stocks are equal – with some big miners underperforming despite the record gold price, according to Neuhauser.

He names three stocks to buy.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

Thu, Mar 21 2024 10:29 PM EDT

Most Apple suppliers in Asia fall after DOJ lawsuit; Foxconn climbs

Customers experience an iPhone15 at an Apple store in Shanghai, China, October 7, 2023.

Apple suppliers in Asia largely fell after the U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple in an antitrust case on Thursday, saying that the iPhone maker has a monopoly over the phone market that harmed consumers, developers, and rival companies.

Shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp, which supplies the chips that power the iPhone, were down 0.77%.

South Korean electronics firms Samsung Electronics and LG Display lost 1.13% and 2.41% respectively. Both firms produce OLED screens for the iPhone.

However, iPhone manufacturer Foxconn, known as Hon Hai Precision Industry in Taiwan, jumped 3.16%.

See Chart...

— Lim Hui Jie

Thu, Mar 21 2024 9:06 PM EDT

Taiwan central bank unexpectedly raises interest rate to highest level since 2008

Taiwan's central bank raised its main policy rate from 1.875% to 2%, its highest level since 2008, in a surprise move on Thursday, according to an official statement.

The Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan) said "inflation has stayed at a relatively higher level since 2021 and that a proposed electricity rate hike might be implemented in April this year, inflation expectations might shift upwards."

In a Reuters poll, 25 out of 26 economists said the central bank would keep the rate unchanged. 

"The decision reinforced CBC's commitment in containing inflation," Commerzbank said, while adding that it now expects the central bank to take a cautious approach.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

Thu, Mar 21 2024 8:59 PM EDT

South Korea's producer prices climb at fastest pace since April 2023

South Korea's producer price index rose 1.5% year on year in February, higher than the 1.3% in January and at its fastest rate since April 2023.

On a month-on-month basis, the PPI rose 0.5%, faster than January's 0.3% gain.

In South Korea, the PPI measures monthly variations in the prices of goods shipped by industrial producers within the domestic market.

— Lim Hui Jie

Thu, Mar 21 2024 8:06 PM EDT

Japan inflation accelerates in February, snapping three months of declines

Japan's headline inflation rate accelerated to 2.8% in February, climbing from the 2.2% in January and ending a streak of three straight months declines.

The core inflation rate — which strips out prices of fresh food — also climbed to 2.8% from 2%, in line with expectations from a Reuters poll of economists.

The so called "core-core" inflation metric, which strips out prices of both fresh food and energy and is watched by the Bank of Japan, came in at 3.2%, up from 2.6% in January.

— Lim Hui Jie

Thu, Mar 21 2024 1:20 PM EDT

Reddit opens at $47 a share

The New York Stock Exchange welcomes Reddit to celebrate its initial public offering. To honor the occasion, Snoo, rings the opening bell.

Reddit popped 38% on Thursday to open at $47 a share in its New York Stock Exchange debut.

The social media company began trading under the ticket symbol "RDDT" after pricing its IPO at $34 a share on Wednesday. It marks the first major social media company to go public since Pinterest in 2019.

— Samantha Subin, Jonathan Vanian

Thu, Mar 21 2024 11:51 AM EDT

Industrials lead S&P 500's gain

Industrials stocks were among the best performers in the S&P 500 during Thursday's session.

The sector rose more than 1% during late-morning trading and was the top performer in the broad-based index thanks to 3% gains from Uber Technologies and Stanley Black & Decker. Other notable gainers included Caterpillar, Rockwell Automation, Cummins and Builders FirstSource.

Financial stocks also outperformed, boosting the sector 0.9%. Goldman Sachs, Blackstone and BlackRock each rallied 3%. PayPal and regional bank stocks such as Comerica, Raymond James and Citizens Financial added about 2% each.

— Samantha Subin

Thu, Mar 21 2024 10:40 AM EDT

Apple shares slide after DOJ antitrust lawsuit

Apple shares slid 3% after the Department of Justice sued Apple on Thursday, saying that its iPhone ecosystem is a monopoly that drove its "astronomical valuation" at the expense of consumers, developers and rival phone makers.

Federal antitrust enforcement and 16 attorneys general also say that Apple's anti-competitive practices extend beyond the iPhone and Apple Watch businesses, citing Apple's advertising, browser, FaceTime and news offerings.

"Each step in Apple's course of conduct built and reinforced the moat around its smartphone monopoly," the complaint filed in the District of New Jersey said.

See Chart...

— Kif Leswing, Rohan Goswami

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