Japanese Shares Fall as Australian Equities Rise
By Investors Hub
Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Thursday, as bond yields rose and the dollar stood near a one-week high against a basket of major currencies after the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s January meeting showed the central bank plans to raise interest rates three times in 2018.
According to the Fed minutes, policymakers expressed rising confidence on inflation while agreeing that the strengthening in the near-term economic outlook increased the likelihood that a gradual upward trajectory of the federal funds rate would be appropriate.
Japanese shares fell sharply to close near a one-week low as U.S. rate hike bets boosted demand for the yen and office equipment maker Ricoh said it is conducting impairment tests.
The Nikkei 225 Index shed 234.37 points or 1.1 percent to 21,736.44, and the broader Topix index closed 0.9 percent lower at 1,746.17.
Exporters Canon and Panasonic fell around 1.5 percent each, while automaker Honda Motor declined 1 percent and Toyota Motor shed 0.9 percent. Ricoh tumbled 3.9 percent on reports that it was considering taking a charge of up to 100 billion yen ($930 million) this fiscal year.
Meanwhile, Australian shares ended a choppy session marginally higher as investors digested a barrage of earnings reports. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index inched up 7.20 points or 0.1 percent to 5,950.90, while the broader All Ordinaries index edged up 10.40 points or 0.2 percent to 6,057.70.
Mining heavyweight BHP Billiton rose 1.3 percent to rebound from recent losses, but rivals Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group closed modestly lower.
National flag carrier Qantas soared 5.9 percent after it posted record profits for the six months to December. In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum shares lost 3.3 percent on turning ex-dividend, while rival Santos climbed 2.2 percent.
Nine Entertainment jumped 16.2 percent after the television broadcaster reported a turnaround to a net profit in the first half of the year on higher revenues. Shares of Crown Resorts advanced 4.4 percent as the casino operator reported a slight increase in first-half underlying profit.
On the other hand, Blackmores slumped 14.7 percent after the vitamin maker warned of a soft second half due to “supply issues” and a soft Australian retail market.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index rallied 69.57 points or 2.2 percent to end at 3,268.56 as traders returned to their desks following the Lunar New Year holidays. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slumped 466.21 points or 1.5 percent to 30,965.68.