Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday as investors remained concerned about the potential impact of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron on travel and braced for a faster withdrawal of Federal Reserve stimulus. Signs of slowing Chinese growth and U.S.-China tensions also kept underlying sentiment cautious.
Chinese shares ended lower as new data ranging from new home prices to investment and retail sales suggested slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy amid a deepening property market slump and Covid disruptions.
U.S.-China tensions also remained on investors’ radar, with reports suggesting that the Biden administration is considering imposing tougher sanctions on Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., China’s largest chipmaker.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 13.90 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,647.63, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 215.19 points, or 0.9 percent, to 23,420.76.
Japanese shares ended on a positive note, tracking gains in the U.S. futures. The Nikkei 225 Index inched up 27.08 points, or 0.1 percent, to 28,459.72, while the broader Topix closed 0.5 percent higher at 1,984.10 ahead of the key Fed decision.
Toyota Motor shares climbed 3.6 percent a day after the automaker committed 8 trillion yen ($70 billion) to electrify its automobiles by 2030.
Eisai rallied 2.8 percent after reports that Japanese health authorities will discuss next week the approval of Alzheimer’s treatment Aduhelm, which Biogen developed in partnership with the Japanese drug maker.
Australian markets fell notably as technology companies and gold miners succumbed to heavy selling pressure amid signs the Fed will signal an early end to tapering.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 51.30 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,327.10, marking its worst session since December 2. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 62.10 points, or 0.8 percent, at 7,636.20.
Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay tumbled 3.1 percent in the tech sector, while gold miner Evolution Mining plunged 5.5 percent.
Seoul stocks recovered from an early slide to finish marginally higher, snapping a three-session losing streak. Chipmaker SK Hynix gained 2.1 percent and cosmetics firm Amorepacific added 4.4 percent, while KT&G Corp lost 2.2 percent after suspending tobacco business in the U.S. due to tightened regulations.
New Zealand shares ended lower as investors awaited guidance from the Federal Reserve on the outlook for interest rates in the world’s largest economy in the face of rising inflation. Markets also awaited third-quarter GDP data due on Thursday for further direction.
The benchmark NZX-50 Index dropped 60.18 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,869.41. Steel & Tube Holdings soared 6.6 percent after upgrading its earnings guidance for the first half of its fiscal year.
U.S. stocks ended lower overnight as the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting got underway and data showed producer prices increased by more than expected in November.
The Dow dipped 0.3 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 1.1 percent and the S&P 500 declined 0.8 percent.
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