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Nikkei Retreats After New 34-Year Peak, Hang Seng Slips

An underwhelming end to the year of the rabbit saw Hong Kong’s benchmark fall back while Tokyo’s main bourse advanced again

Asia stock markets
A man on a bicycle stands in front of an electronic board showing Shanghai stock index, Nikkei share price index and Dow Jones Industrial Average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Reuters


Asia’s major stock indexes saw a subdued end to the week with profit-taking and caution the watchwords for traders.

Japan’s Nikkei provided the one moment of drama, hitting a fresh 34-year high before U-turning and offloading most of its gains, while Hong Kong saw a weak finish ahead of the Lunar Holiday Break.

Tokyo’s benchmark ended up just inches ahead, up 0.09% at 36,897.42 after jumping as much as 1.15% to 37,282,26, its highest since February 1990. The broader Topix was down 0.19%, or 4.75 points, to 2,557.88.


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SoftBank Group jumped 8.72%, rising for a second straight session, after the tech investment firm returned to profit for the first time in five quarters.

Nissan Motor tanked 11.56% after the automaker trimmed its sales volume forecast for this financial year and amid worries about its business in China.

Hong Kong shares saw a low-key finish to the zodiac year in a session shortened by the festive break, with the absence of mainland buyers leaving the market to drift lower.

At the early close of trade, the Hang Seng index was down 131.49 points or 0.83% at 15,746.58. 

For the week it rose 1.4%, but for the zodiac year of the rabbit just ended, it dropped 28.6% as investors have streamed out of Chinese assets while the economy stuttered.

Hong Kong markets are now closed until February 14, while mainland China markets are closed until February 19.

The Shanghai composite index posted its biggest weekly gain since November 2022 and the CSI blue-chip index also rose on Thursday, with investors welcoming Wednesday’s announcement of leadership change at the top of China’s market regulator.

Elsewhere across the region, in earlier trade, Singapore and Wellington also fell but Sydney, Mumbai and Bangkok were up. Seoul, Taipei and Jakarta were closed for holidays.


US Unemployment Fall

Wall Street’s major indexes rose on Thursday with the S&P hovering near the 5,000-point milestone as investors reacted to earnings reports and US jobs data, and the US dollar gained.

European equities slipped and US Treasury yields rose after a 30-year bond auction.

The number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits dipped to 218,000 during the week ended February 3, compared with economists’ forecast of 220,000, data showed.

Both US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank policymakers, as well as those in some big emerging markets, have been pushing back against expectations of rapid rate cuts as they gauge whether inflation has been adequately tamed.

The likelihood of a Fed rate cut in March slipped 2.5 percentage points from Wednesday to 16.5%, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool. The probability a week ago was 36.5%.

“We continue to get positive surprises in the US and we’re not getting enough positive surprises in the rest of the world, and certainly not in China,” said Thierry Wizman, global FX and interest rates strategist at Macquarie in New York.

The dollar index gained 0.1% at 104.13, with the euro up 0.05% at 1.0776.

The yield on benchmark US 10-year notes rose 5.6 basis points to 4.154%, from 4.098% late on Wednesday. The 30-year bond yield rose 4.5 basis points to 4.3541% from 4.309% late on Wednesday.

In commodities, US crude oil futures gained 3.05% to $76.11 a barrel and Brent crude rose to $81.48 per barrel.


Key figures

Tokyo – Nikkei 225 > UP 0.09% at 36,897.42 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index < DOWN 0.83% at 15,746.58 (close)

Shanghai – Composite <> CLOSED

London – FTSE 100 > UP 0.02% at 7,596.99 (0932 GMT)

New York – Dow > UP 0.13% at 38,726.33 (Thursday close)


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

China Sees Record Bank Loans in January to Spur Economy

China Sees Biggest Fall in Consumer Prices Since 2009

China Stocks See Best Week in a Year Despite Downcast Economy

Soaraway Nikkei Hits 34-Year High, Alibaba Drags on Hang Seng



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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