Asia report: Chinese tech shares end wild week in the red


Asia report: Chinese tech shares end wild week in the red

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Stock markets were mixed at the end of trading in Asia on Friday, with Chinese technology plays once again in focus, ending a rollercoaster week in the red.

 

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.14% at 28,149.84, as the yen strengthened 0.56% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 121.66.

Automation specialist Fanuc closed up 0.89%, while among the benchmark’s other major components, fashion firm Fast Retailing slipped 0.25% and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 1.75% softer.

Apple suppliers were also in focus, after reports overnight the California-based consumer technology giant was planning to launch a subscription model for iPhones later this year.

Alps Alpine was up 1.15%, Murata Manufacturing added 1.22%, and Taiyo Yuden was 1.06% firmer.

The broader Topix was stable, closing down 0.005% - or just 0.09 points - at 1,981.47.

Fresh data out of Japan showed inflation climbing slightly more than expected, with the consumer price index (CPI) up 1.3% year-on-year in March, compared to 1% in February and ahead of consensus expectations for an increase of 1.2%.

Excluding fresh food, the CPI was up 0.8% year-on-year, and stripping out the effects of fresh food and energy saw prices fall 0.4%.

“The rise in both headline and core inflation was driven by surging energy prices in March, which added 1.1 percentage points to headline inflation - a 0.2 point increase relative to February,” said Craig Botham at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“The remainder of the increase in headline inflation came from food prices, and a modest reduction in the drag from communications.

“The latter will provide a significant bounce to inflation next month.”

Botham said it was still the ‘wrong’ kind of inflation for the Bank of Japan, with even the increase in ‘core core’ inflation primarily the result of a fading drag from communications, as slashes to mobile phone tariffs started to drop out of the base effects.

“Ex-transitory inflation is nonetheless likely to rise soon, if only because rising raw material costs will be passed on to consumer goods.

“Household durable goods inflation, for example, recorded its largest month-on-month increase since 2017, seasonally-adjusted.

“Fuel subsidies have limited the rise in transport costs, for now; private transportation inflation fell 0.3% month-on-month, the first decline since late 2020, but if energy prices globally continue to rise, more will be needed.

“Food prices, even excluding fresh food, are also accelerating.”

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was down 1.17% at 3,212.24, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 1.43% lower at 2,113.73.

South Korea’s Kospi eked out gains of 0.01%, or 0.32 points, to 2,729.98, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was 2.47% lower at 21,404.88.

Russian aluminium maker Rusal was down 5.96% at the close in the special administrative region, having earlier surged more than 10%.

The turbulent moves for the company’s Hong Kong listing rounded off a busy week for the company, which began with Australia barring exports of alumina and other aluminium ores to Russia last weekend.

Rusal’s shares then rocketed 16% in Moscow on Thursday, as the city’s bourse resumed very limited trading after being closed for a month following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

At 1349 MSK (1049 GMT), shares in Rusal were down 4.26% in Moscow, mirroring its earlier losses in Hong Kong.

Chinese tech stocks were also on the back foot, with Alibaba down 5.62%, JD.com losing 4.72%, Meituan tumbling 8.16% and Tencent Holdings 2.62% weaker.

Regulatory concerns were the theme of the week, with the latest development seeing Chinese social network Sina Weibo added to a list of stocks being threatened with delisting in the US by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

JD Logistics, meanwhile, plunged 13.74% after the JD.com affiliate announced it was raising HKD 8.52bn in a share sale at a price of HKD 20.71 each.

Seoul’s blue-chip technology stocks were mixed, with Samsung Electronics closing flat, and SK Hynix falling 2.07%.

“Asian markets were less sanguine than their US counterparts, as the initial euphoria arising from the promise of monetary stimulus last week began to wane in the absence of any further detail,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.

“With clouded visibility on a Chinese economy which could yet flatline in the first quarter and with the overhang of regulatory threat to technology companies still strongly in the mix, these markets are also flitting between hope and caution.”

Oil prices were lower as the region entered the weekend, with Brent crude futures last down 1.19% on ICE at $117.61 per barrel, and NYMEX prices for West Texas Intermediate falling 1.59% to $110.55.

In Australia, the SP/ASX 200 was 0.26% firmer at 7,406.20, while across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s SP/NZX 50 was 0.31% higher at 12,055.00.

The down under dollars were both weaker against the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.07% at AUD 1.3319, and the Kiwi retreating 0.06% to NZD 1.4366.

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