Asian Shares End On Lackluster Note

(RTTNews) - Asian stocks ended on a lackluster note on Wednesday as hopes faded for an early rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve and investors monitored the early headlines on Japan's spring wage negotiations for clues on a possible shift in policy.

The dollar steadied and gold was marginally higher in Asian trading, while oil prices rebounded on industry data showing a large, unexpected draw in U.S. crude inventories.

China's Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.4 percent to 3,043.83, with property developers falling sharply as Country Garden missed a coupon payment.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index finished marginally lower at 17,082.11, while Country Garden Holdings shares tumbled 4.9 percent.

Japanese markets closed modestly lower, while the yen strengthened as the country's largest employers announced record pay increases, stoking speculation the Bank of Japan could end its negative interest rate policy at its meeting next week.

Following the wage hikes, BoJ Governor Kazuo Ueda noted, "We will scrutinize the wage talk outcome, as well as other data and information from our hearings, in making policy decisions."

The Nikkei 225 Index slipped 0.3 percent to 38,695.97, while the broader Topix Index settled 0.3 percent lower at 2,648.51.

Toyota Motor shed 0.9 percent and Nippon Steel finished marginally lower after they agreed to historic pay hikes. Panasonic Holdings gave up 1.8 percent.

Seoul stocks eked out modest gains after the jobless rate in the country fell to 2.6 percent in February from 3 percent in the prior month. The Kospi rose 0.4 percent to 2,693.57, hitting a 23-month high.

Chipmaker Samsung Electronics jumped 1.1 percent after reports that it plans to use a chip-making technology championed by rival SK Hynix. Shares of the latter fell 1.3 percent.

Australian stocks closed higher as banks and real estate stocks gained ground, offsetting losses in the mining sector.

The benchmark S&P ASX 200 Index edged up 0.2 percent to 7,729.40 while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended 0.2 percent higher at 7,989.50.

Liontown Resources soared 6.1 percent after the lithium developer secured a debt facility of AU$550 million for the expansion of its Kathleen Valley lithium project.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index eased 0.2 percent to close at 11,809.02.

U.S. stocks rebounded overnight as inflation data largely met expectations, with CPI rising 0.4 percent on the month and 3.2 percent year-on-year in February. Core inflation came in at 0.4 percent versus forecasts for a 0.3 percent gain.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.5 percent after two days of losses. The S&P 500 rose 1.1 percent to a new record closing high and the Dow gained 0.6 percent.

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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