Asia markets set for mixed session as investors await China house prices data

Feb 23, 2024

Hong Kong, a British colony from the 1840s to 1997, grew into an international finance center just off the coast of mainland China.

Anthony Kwan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Asia-Pacific markets inched higher Friday as investors digested China property price data.

The CSI 300 index was 0.4% higher at the open, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.7%.

Data showed sales prices of newly built commercial housing in first-tier cities fell 0.3% month-over-month in January, with declines narrowing by 0.1 percentage points from the previous month.

At the end of last year, the country’s troubled property market clocked its worst declines in new home prices in nearly nine years.

Wall Street’s main indexes surged on Thursday, with the S&P 500 hitting a record high after chip giant Nvidia posted quarterly results that far exceeded estimates, boosting the tech sector.

The benchmark index gained 2.11% to close at 5,087.03, its best day since January 2023. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 2.96%, recording its best day since February 2023, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.18%, to close above 39,000 for the first time and at a new high of 39,069.11.

— CNBC’s Pia Singh and Yun Li contributed to this report.

China property price declines narrow month-on-month in January

Photo taken on January 21, 2024 shows a real estate project under construction in Huai ‘an city, Jiangsu province, China.

CFOTO | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Declines in China’s commercial housing sales prices narrowed on a month-on-month basis, according to data.

Data showed sales prices of newly built commercial houses in first-tier cities fell 0.3% in January from the previous month, with declines narrowing by 0.1 percentage points from the previous month.

Prices continued to drop from last year, falling 0.5% from a year ago or 0.4 percentage points more than the previous month.

The January data comes after the country’s troubled property market recorded its worst declines in new home prices in nearly nine years at the end of last year.

China’s CSI 300 added 0.2%, set to rise for the ninth straight session if gains hold till the end of the trading day.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

Korean won falls a day after Bank of Korea decision

The South Korean currency, the won

Nora Carol Photography | Getty Images

The Korean won eased against the U.S. dollar on Friday, a day after the Bank of Korea held interest rates.

The won dipped 0.2%. The BOK held interest rates unchanged at 3.5% as widely expected on Thursday.

Goldman Sachs said Thursday that the central bank could be the first to cut rates.

Analysts at Commerzbank said “diverging views within the board on the direction of rates could also add to volatility. Two board members are also due to be replaced. This could change the dynamics on the board, depending on who will be appointed.”

Stocks in Korea rose, with the Kospi adding 0.5% after the Nvidia’s blockbuster results helped boost semiconductor stocks globally.

— Shreyashi Sanyal

New Zealand retail sales contract for eight straight quarters

Retail sales in New Zealand fell for the eighth quarter in a row, according to official data on Friday.

The total volume of retail sales in the December quarter fell 1.9%, data released by Stats NZ showed. Year-over-year retail sales contracted 4.1% in the December quarter.

“Ongoing falls in retail activity over the last two years were marked by a fall in most industries in the December quarter,” Melissa McKenzie, business financial statistics manager of Stats NZ said.

The largest declines in retail activity were driven by motor vehicle and parts retailing (down 2.5%), food and beverage services (down 2.4%) and fuel retailing (down 3.6%).

The only industry that saw an increase in retail activity was pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing, which was up 0.3%. 

— Shreyashi Sanyal

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Stocks surge on Thursday

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Oil prices rise as signs point to tightening global crude market

A general view of Isfahan Refinery, one of the largest refineries in Iran and is considered as the first refinery in the country in terms of diversity of petroleum products in Isfahan, Iran on November 08, 2023. 

Fatemeh Bahrami | Anadolu | Getty Images

Crude oil futures rose Thursday amid signs of a tightening global market and as the geopolitical outlook in the Middle East remains uncertain.  

The West Texas Intermediate contract for April gained 70 cents, or 0.9%, to settle at $78.61 a barrel. The Brent contract for April added 64 cents, or 0.77%, to settle at $83.67 a barrel.

The price premium of the first month futures contracts over the following months has increased in recent weeks, according to UBS strategist Giovanni Staunovo. 

A premium for immediate versus later delivery is typically a sign that the oil market is tightening, Staunovo wrote in a note to clients Thursday. 

The geopolitical outlook in the Middle East remains uncertain as the U.S. works toward a cease-fire in Gaza while tensions escalate on the Israel-Lebanon border and in the Red Sea. 

— Spencer Kimball

Bitcoin related stocks rise with cryptocurrencies, helped by Nvidia rally and Fed minutes

In this photo illustration, a visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin is displayed on February 13, 2024 in Paris, France.

Chesnot | Getty Images

Stocks tied to the price of bitcoin rose on Thursday, striving to recover losses from the previous session when bitcoin and crypto equities fell in anticipation of the minutes of the latest Fed meeting.

Coinbase and Microstrategy were higher by 5% each in late afternoon trading, while the biggest mining stocks, Marathon Digital and Riot Platforms, advanced 8% and 4%, respectively.

Bitcoin was higher by more than 1%. Other cryptocurrencies saw even bigger increases, helped by a boost in the stock market following Nvidia’s strong earnings, as well as an optimistic tone in the minutes of the Fed’s January meeting.

“The market was let down by the January decision … then had to significantly reprice their expectation for rate cuts and 2024 – all of that was priced in heading into the Fed minutes,” said Joel Kruger, market strategist at LMAX Group, told CNBC. “The balance of risk was tilted towards the reaction that we’re seeing today, which is that there wasn’t going to be anything worse that was going to come out for the market yesterday.”

— Tanaya Macheel

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