Asian Pacific Stocks

Asian stocks jump as tensions ease a little bit

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Asian Pacific stocks finished in deep positive territory on Wednesday (Feb. 16), on the back of positive global cues amid signs of a de-escalation in Ukraine tensions.

A day earlier, the Russian defence ministry said its forces were starting to return to base after completing exercises in the southern and western military districts near Ukraine. Later, United States President Joe Biden stated he agreed with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to continue pursuing diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.

China’s Foreign Ministry accused the Washington and its partners on Wednesday of “creating tension” regarding Ukraine by “playing up the threat of warfare” by spreading misinformation about Russia’s plans. “Such persistent hyping up and disinformation by some Western countries will create turbulence and uncertainty to the world full of challenges, and intensify distress and division,” the ministry’s spokesperson Wang Wenbin stated.

The tension between world powers over the Ukraine situation, which has developed into one of the deepest crises in East-West relations for decades, has been front-and-centre of investors’ minds.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 surged 2.22% at the end of Wednesday’s session, leading gains among the region’s major markets. In mainland China, shares rose after data showed the country’s factory-gate inflation slowed, leaving room for policy easing. The benchmark Shanghai Composite closed up 0.57%, to 3,465.83 while the Shenzhen component added 0.23% to 13,376.36. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 1.49%, to close at 24,718.90.

South Korea’s Kospi average snapped a three-day losing streak.
The benchmark index rose 53.14 points, or 1.99%, to close at 2,729.68, marking the sharpest gain since Dec 1.

In Australia, the ASX200 advanced 1.1% to close at its high-point for the day, up 78 points to 7,284.9, helped by a rush of better than expected half year company earnings results. New Zealand shares also rallied. The NZX 50 index rose 183.57 points, or 1.54 percent, to 12,121.89.

Asian stocks rose and their European peers are trading mostly higher.

The markets continue to have a laser-like focus on geopolitical developments but as inflation worries mount, despair did not give way entirely to euphoria.

Investors awaited minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last meeting due later in the day amid increasing chances that the central bank will raise interest rates by 50 basis points next month.

The minutes could show whether policymakers will lean towards a larger half-point rate rise at its March meeting, or whether they favour moving faster with selling the Fed’s bond holdings to tighten financial conditions.

Reports on U.S. retail sales, industrial production, and homebuilder confidence might get special attention on Wednesday

U.S. stock index futures edged lower in morning trading Wednesday.