Asia-Pacific markets mostly decline; China says its factory activity expanded in March

Asia

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific mostly declined on Wednesday as official data showed China’s factory activity growing in March.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.86% to close at 29,178.80 while the Topix index declined 1.21% to end its trading day at 1,954. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.28% to finish its trading day at 3,061.42.

Mainland Chinese stocks were lower by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite down 0.43% to 3,441.91 and the Shenzhen component shedding 0.79% to 13,778.67. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong dipped about 0.3%, as of its final hour of trading.

Shares in Australia bucked the overall trend regionally as the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.78% to close at 6,790.70.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares slipped 0.3%.

Stocks on the move

Shares of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group fell 3.87% on Wednesday after the firm’s brokerage arm flagged potential losses of around $300 million due to an event at its European subsidiary in relation to an unnamed U.S. client.

That development came in the wake of the recent meltdown at Archegos Capital Management. Credit Suisse and Nomura, two prime brokers of Archegos, announced Monday that they faced losses that could be “highly significant” to the banks.

Shares of Nomura in Japan continued to see a third straight day of losses on Wednesday and fell 2.94%. Nomura’s stock plunged more than 16% on Monday.

Elsewhere, shares of South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor shed 0.68%. That came after the firm announced it will temporarily suspend production at its No. 1 plant in Ulsan, South Korea, from April 7 to 14.

In a statement, Hyundai said the suspension was due to “supply conditions” of semiconductor parts for the front view camera system of the Kona sport utility vehicle as well as power electric modules for the Ioniq 5.

China’s official manufacturing PMI

In economic developments, official data showed China’s factory activity expanded at a faster-than-expected pace in March.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 51.9, according to the National Bureau of Statistics — compared to February’s reading of 50.6. Analysts had expected a reading of 51 for March, according to Reuters.

PMI readings above 50 signify expansion while those below that level represent contraction. PMI readings are sequential and represent month-on-month expansion or contraction.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 104.41 points to close at 33,066.96 while the S&P 500 finished its trading day about 0.32% lower at 3,958.55. The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.11% lower at 13,045.39.

The losses on Wall Street came as the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note touched a 14-month high on Tuesday. It later eased from those levels and last sat at 1.7315%.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 93.211 after rising from levels below 93 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.68 per dollar as it remained weaker than levels below 109.2 against the greenback seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.761, having slipped from around $0.765 yesterday.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.86% to $64.69 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.84% to $61.06 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Hugh Son and Chery Kang contributed to this report.

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