Asia-Pacific Stocks: Japan's Nikkei Slips as Banks, Casinos Inspire Hong Kong Rally

Asia-Pacific stocks markets diverged on Wednesday as banks led a Hong Kong rally, while Japan's export-heavy benchmark indices retreated ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting on Wednesday, with markets braced for a 0.25% hike in interest rates.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.4% lower amid a weaker U.S. dollar. Because Japan Inc. is heavily represented by exporters, a strong yen hits profits as overseas earnings are converted into the home currency. The U.S dollar weakened against major currencies, including the Japanese yen, in Asia trading hours after after Democrat Doug Jones won the Alabama Senate race, in what was seen as a defeat for President Donald Trump, who had endorsed Republican Roy Moore. Sumco (3436.JP), which exports silicon wafers for semiconductor manufacturers worldwide, was the worst performer, plunging more than 5%, while fellow semiconductor-related stocks, Disco (6146.JP) and Tokyo Electron (8035.JP) also fell. Chemical producers Showa Denko (4004.JP) and Shin-Etsu Chemical (4063.JP) dropped 3.8% and 3.6%, respectively. Smartphone game maker DeNA (2432.JP) slipped more than 4% after the Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo (7974.JP) is looking to expand tie-ups with other software developers after its alliance with DeNA aimed at cracking the fast-growing mobile market fell behind schedule. Toshiba jumped 2% on news that it had reacheda settlemen t with its manufacturing partner for NAND flash, Western Digital.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index rallied 1.5% higher led by Macau casino stocks and banking stocks. Galaxy Entertainment (27.HK) and Sands China (1928.HK) gained about 6% and 7.2%, respectively, as Macau gaming revenue rises. China Construction Bank (939.HK) jumped 4.2%, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (1398.HK) gained 5.8%, Bank of China (3988.HK) advanced 2.7%, while HSBC (5.HK) climbed 4.1% ahead of the U.S. FOMC meeting. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index, known as the H-shares gauge, rallied 1.54% higher led by Air China (753.HK). The Chinese airliner soared more than 13% on news of a new deal between the UK and China that allows for a 50% boost in the number of passenger flights between the two nations. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite jumped 0.68%, while the CSI 300, which tracks large cap companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen, closed 0.85% higher.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index crept up 0.1% with shopping mall operator Westfield (WFD.AU) the biggest mover, leaping almost 14% after announcing market close yesterday that it had accepted a USD 24.7 billion cash and stock offer from Unibail-Rodamco, Europe's largest listed commercial property company. Cleanaway Waste Management (CWY.AU) climbed 6.5% after the recycling and waste management company revealed plans to raise up to AUD590 million via a rights offer, the proceeds of which will go towards the recently announced AUD671 million acquisition of Tox Free Solutions. Shares in the big 4 banks - Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AU), National Australia Bank (NAB.AU), Australia & New Zealand Banking (ANZ.AU), Westpac Banking (WBC.AU) - retreated as the positive sentiment after financials led Wall Street higher overnight faded. Document storage company Iron Mountain slumped 6.% after announcing the acquisition of data center services provider IO Data Centers and a stock offering.

Elsewhere, Korea's KOSPI index closed 0.79% higher, while Taiwan's tech-heavy TAIEX closed 0.26% higher.

European markets are marginally lower, with the Euro STOXX 50 down 0.06%, the German DAX 0.08% lower, while the France CAC 40 edged down 0.12%.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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