Asia-Pacific stocks mostly tumbled on Wednesday as nervous investors shifted money into bonds amid continued military tensions in Ukraine.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 lost 1.68% to close at 26,393.03 while the Topix index fell 1.96% to 1,859.94. In mainland China, stocks also finished the trading day in negative territory. The Shanghai composite closed down 0.13% to 3,484.19 while the Shenzhen component decreased by 1.05% to 13,346.96. South Korea’s Kospi bucked the trend climbing 0.16% to 2,703.52.
Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 added 0.28% to close at 7,116.70 on the back of positive economic data. Australia’s GDP expanded a seasonally adjusted 3.4% on quarter in the last quarter of 2021, beating forecasts for a gain of 3.0% the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. The broader All Ordinaries index closed up 0.28 percent, at 7,406.30. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index lost 109.17 points, or 0.89%, to finish at 12,088.75.
European markets are choppy. Germany’s DAX fell 0.54% at 9:03 am CET, the FTSE 100 advanced 0.62% while France’s CAC 40 fell 0.71% one minute later.
In data, Eurozone’s annual inflation is expected to be 5.8% in February, up from 5.1% in January according to a flash estimate from Eurostat. The report estimated that energy is expected to have the highest annual rate in February (31.7%, compared with 28.8% in January), followed by food, alcohol & tobacco (4.1%, compared with 3.5% in January), non-energy industrial goods (3.0%, compared with 2.1% in January) and services (2.5%, compared with 2.3% in January).
The highest inflation rates are expected in Lithuania and Estonia while the lowest in France, Malta and Finland, the statistical office of the European Union said.
In other economic releases, British housing prices growth rose up to 12.6% on an annual basis.
US stocks traded higher in the premarket. The traders will carefully monitor U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony, scheduled for later in the day, and look for hints on possible interest rate hikes. The US central bank will also will publish its Beige Book.
In commodities, oil extended its relentless rally above $110 a barrel for the first time since mid-2014 on supply disruption fears. in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, the international benchmark Brent crude futures were up 6.17% to $111.45 per barrel. That’s despite the the International Energy Agency saying Tuesday it will release 60 million barrels of oil from global reserves, in a bid to ease the current supply constraint.
Gold, a safe store of value during times of such uncertainties and also a hedge against higher inflation, hovered near $1,940 an ounce.