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Nikkei Cools on Profit-Locking, Flat Tech Drags on Hang Seng

Tokyo’s record run looks to have abated as foreign sellers exited while Hong Kong slipped despite shares advancing on the mainland

Asia stock markets
People pass by an electronic screen showing Japan's Nikkei share price index inside a conference hall in Tokyo. Photo: Reuters


Asia’s major stock indexes saw a mixed day on Thursday with many investors waiting for even more stimulus out of Beijing, amidst profit-locking in an overheating Japan.

In contrast, mainland Chinese equities and many other regional stock markets climbed, while the dollar held its ground against European rivals ahead of crucial US inflation data that could provide fresh clues on when the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates.

Japan’s Nikkei share average ended lower, as investors sold stocks to lock in profits from the index’s record high.


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The Nikkei fell for a second day, edging down 0.11% to close at 39,166.19. The index fell as much as 0.8% earlier in the session to trade below the 39.000 level for the first time since February 22. The broader Topix was ahead 0.03%, or 0.78 points, to 2,675.73.

The yen strengthened against the dollar after Bank of Japan board member Hajime Takata said the central bank must consider overhauling its ultra-loose monetary policy.

However, sentiment was hurt by the latest data from the finance ministry, which showed foreign investors turned net sellers of Japanese stocks in the week when the index scaled an all-time high, Ryutaro Sawada, senior market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, said.

Foreign investors sold 200 billion yen ($1.33 billion) of Japanese stocks in the week ended February 24, pausing a seven-week buying streak.

China stocks rose, though, after the securities regulator said it would tighten scrutiny of derivative businesses in the stock market, while investor expectations for further stimulus ahead of a key policy meeting also helped sentiment.

China’s blue-chip CSI 300 Index gained 1.91%, recovering after a 1.3% slide in the previous session, while the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.94%, or 57.32 points, to 3,015.17. The Shenzhen Composite Index on China’s second exchange surged 3.36%, or 55.49 points, to 1,706.98.

For the month, the CSI 300 was up 8.3% so far, on track to snap a six-month losing streak.


Wall Street Futures Flat

Next week’s annual session of the National People’s Congress, where the annual growth target will be set and a plan will be laid out for achieving it, will provide the clearest indications yet of the government’s stimulus intentions.

In Hong Kong, tech giants traded flat, while healthcare firms rose 1.2%, but the Hang Seng Index lost 0.15%, or 25.41 points, to end at 16,511.44. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index dipped 0.19%.

Elsewhere across the region, in earlier trade, Seoul, Wellington, Bangkok and Jakarta were lower, while Sydney, Mumbai, Taipei, Singapore, Manila and Kuala Lumpur were up. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.22%.

Wall Street futures were largely flat, following declines for all three major indexes overnight. S&P 500 futures pointed down 0.04% and Nasdaq futures fell 0.06%. Pan-European STOXX 50 futures added 0.06%.

Investors are wary ahead of the release later in the day of the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumer expenditures (PCE) price index, after dialling back bets for a first rate cut to June. At the start of the year, wagers were on the Fed cutting rates in March.


Bitcoin Closes on Record

Thursday also sees inflation data from German states, France and Spain, ahead of the euro area’s figures on Friday.

The US dollar index, which measures the currency against six major peers including the yen, euro and sterling, edged 0.06% lower to 103.87.

Benchmark US 10-year Treasury yields were stable at around 4.28%.

Bitcoin was 4.2% higher at $63,120, after jumping to the cusp of $64,000 overnight for the first time since November 2021, and bringing the all-time high of $68,999.99 into sight.

In commodities, oil prices extended the previous session’s declines after a larger-than-expected build in US crude stockpiles stoked worries about slow demand, while signs that US interest rates could remain elevated added to pressure.

Brent crude futures fell 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $83.54 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 4 cents, or 0.1%, to $78.50 a barrel.


Key figures

Tokyo – Nikkei 225 < DOWN 0.11% at 39,166.19 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index < DOWN 0.15% at 16,511.44 (close)

Shanghai – Composite > UP 1.94% at 3,015.17 (close)

London – FTSE 100 > UP 0.11% at 7,633.14 (0932 GMT)

New York – Dow < DOWN 0.06% at 38,949.02 (Wednesday close)


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

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China-Wary Investors ‘Icing on Cake’ For Japan’s Nikkei

Nikkei Dips Amid Overheating Fears, Property Drags on Hang Seng

Bitcoin Hits $57k, Posts Two-Year High as Big Players Wade In



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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