Asian Markets

Asia-Pacific Markets Gain, KOSPI Rallies over 3%

Stocks in Asia-Pacific largely jumped on Thursday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged to a record closing high overnight.

South Korea’s Kospi led gains regionally as it jumped 3.5% to close at 3,099.69.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 1.67% to close at 30,168.27 as shares of conglomerate SoftBank Group surged 3.84%. The Topix index also gained 1.22% to finish its trading day at 1,926.23.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also saw gains as it rose 1.2% to close at 30,074.17.

Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed on the day as the Shanghai composite gained 0.59% to 3,585.05 while the Shenzhen component dipped 0.282% to 14,828.80.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia gained 0.83% to close at 6,834 while the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.54%.

Australia’s ASX 200 Index performance chart.

Shares of South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix soared 9.19% on Thursday.

The moves came after Nvidia reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that topped elevated analyst expectations against the backdrop of a global semiconductor shortage, which has hit sectors ranging from gaming to autos.

Meanwhile, Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor’s stock dropped 3.3%. The firm announced Wednesday that Chairman Osamu Suzuki will leave his post in June and become a senior advisor.

On the earnings front, Standard Chartered Bank reported 2020 pretax profit of $1.61 billion, plunging 57% from a year ago. That figure is lower than the $1.85 billion average of analyst forecasts compiled by the bank, according to Reuters.

Still, Standard Chartered Bank Group CEO Bill Winters said the “outlook is bright.”

“While COVID-19 caused the quickest and sharpest economic collapse any of us has ever seen, recovery expectations have also surpassed prior recessions in both speed and magnitude. We are in a great position to benefit from that,” Winters said.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Standard Chartered fell 1.9% on Thursday.

On Tuesday, rival HSBC reported full-year earnings that beat expectations and announced a dividend payout for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overnight stateside, the Dow jumped 424.51 points to a record closing high of 31,961.86. The S&P 500 gained 1.1% to finish its trading day at 3,925.40 while the Nasdaq Composite closed about 1% higher at 13,597.97.

The moves on Wall Street came as U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell continued to downplay the threat of inflation, saying it could take three years to reach the central bank’s target consistently.

In Wednesday’s testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee, Powell said inflation could be volatile as the economy reopens and there’s increased demand. Still, the Fed chair does not expect inflation to run hot and said the central bank has tools to combat it if it should.

Asian Markets Currencies & Oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 89.916 — still weaker than levels above 90.8 seen last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.06 per dollar, having weakened from levels below 105.6 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7989, stronger then levels below $0.784 seen last week.

Japanese Yen basket index performance

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.88% to $67.63 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.76% to $63.70 per barrel.

Also Read: Asia – Pacific Stocks Extend Decline, Investors React to Powell Testimony

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