Asian Shares Mixed In Thin Holiday Trading

Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday in thin trading, with the mainland China and Hong Kong markets closed for a holiday.

As inflation and growth worries mount, investors kept a close eye on oil price movements and awaited key U.S. data due this week for additional clues on the growth and interest rate outlook.

The dollar languished near two-month lows and Treasury yields held declines, while gold held steady at over a one-year high on expectations that the Federal Reserve might loosen its monetary policy trajectory.

In an annual letter to shareholders, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s chief Jamie Dimon warned the U.S. banking crisis is not yet over and there will be repercussions from it for years to come.

Japanese shares led regional losses as a stronger yen weighed on export-oriented stocks. The Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 1.7 percent to 27,813.26, marking its first loss in four days.

The broader Topix closed 1.9 percent lower at 1,983.84, with auto and energy stocks retreating on fears of an impending U.S. recession.

Traders shrugged off data showing that Japanese services sector activity grew at the fastest rate in over nine years in March.

Automakers Honda Motor, Toyota and Mazda lost 2-3 percent, while oil & gas explorer Inpex Corp. shed 1.9 percent and Japan Petroleum fell 2.6 percent. Heavyweight Fast Retailing declined 1.9 percent.

Panasonic Holdings Corp gained 2 percent on reports that it was in talks with Stellantis and BMW over new electric-vehicle battery plants.

Seoul stocks advanced, with the Kospi rising 0.6 percent to close at 2,495.21.

Australian markets fluctuated before finishing on a flat note as Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said the balance of risks leaned towards further rate increases. Gold miners surged, offsetting losses in mining and energy stocks.

Newcrest Mining jumped over 3 percent and Regis Resources soared 6.4 percent as bullion prices touched their highest levels since March 2022.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index slipped 0.3 percent to 11,866.83 as the country’s central bank unexpectedly hiked rates by 50 basis points to a more than 14-year peak of 5.25 percent and kept the door open to further tightening.

U.S. stocks declined overnight as oil prices continued to surge and data showed job openings fell dramatically to a two-year low in February, raising worries about the economic outlook.

A separate report showed new orders for U.S. manufactured goods fell for a second straight month in February.

The Dow and the S&P 500 both slipped around 0.6 percent to snap four-day winning streaks, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed half a percent.

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