Asian Markets Mixed, Investors React to IMF News
Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Wednesday as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its growth forecast for the global economy this year.
The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 0.31% to close at 28,635.21 while the Topix index gained 0.65% to finish its trading day at 1,860.07. South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.57% lower at 3,122.56.
Mainland Chinese stocks nudged higher on the day: The Shanghai composite advanced 0.11% to 3,573.34 while the Shenzhen component gained 0.4% to 15,413.84. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was above the flatline, as of its final hour of trading, with shares of Chinese tech giant Alibaba rising 2.76%.
China’s industrial profits rose 4.1% year-on-year in 2020, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics announced Wednesday. For December, industrial profits in China soared 20.1% year-on-year.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.65% to close at 6,780.60. Australia’s consumer price index rose 0.9% quarter-on-quarter in the December quarter, according to data released by the country’s Bureau of Statistics.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.4%.
In its latest World Economic Outlook published Tuesday, the IMF now expects the global economy to grow 5.5% this year. That’s a 0.3 percentage point increase from October’s forecasts.
“Much now depends on the outcome of this race between a mutating virus and vaccines to end the pandemic, and on the ability of policies to provide effective support until that happens,” the IMF’s Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said in a blog post.
Global coronavirus virus infections recently topped the 100 million mark, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. That comes as new and more contagious virus mutations circulate and send infection rates surging.
Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 dipped 0.2% to close at 3,849.57 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 22.90 points to finish its trading day at 30,937.10. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.1% to close at 13,626.06.
Currencies and oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.204 following an earlier low of 90.153.
The Japanese yen traded at 103.66 per dollar, weaker than levels below 103.5 against the greenback seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7739 after rising from levels around $0.768 yesterday.
Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.77% to $56.34 per barrel. U.S. crude futures advanced 0.84% to $53.05 per barrel.