Asian Shares Mixed After Yellen’s Comments

Asian stocks ended mixed in thin trading on Wednesday after U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen noted that interest rates will have to rise somewhat to make sure that the economy doesn’t overheat. Yellen later clarified the comments and said she was neither predicting nor recommending a rate increase.

Japanese markets were closed for a third straight day for Children’s Day. China was also closed for Labor Day, while South Korea was closed for Children’s Day.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 139.16 points, or 0.5 percent, to 28,417.98. Hong Kong’s private sector continued to expand in April, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from Markit Economics showed, with a services PMI score of 50.3, down from 50.5 in March.

Australian stocks rose for the third straight session, with rising commodity prices and dovish comments from RBA’s interest rate decision boosting sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended up 27.90 points, or 0.4 percent, at 7,095.80 after touching a new 14-month high of 7,122.00 earlier in the day. The broader All Ordinaries Index rose 20.70 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,344.20.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto rose over 1 percent. Gold miners ended broadly lower. Tech stocks also succumbed to selling pressure, with Appen, Afterpay and WiseTech Global losing 1-3 percent.

Energy stocks finished modestly higher as oil extended overnight gains. Lender ANZ lost 3.2 percent despite more than doubling its first-half cash profit.

Nearmap surged 14.6 percent after the aerial mapping firm upgraded one of its key financial metrics – annual contract value – for the 2021 financial year.

In economic news, data on the country’s services and construction sectors mostly painted a positive picture of the economy.

New Zealand shares ended lower as strong job data boosted the kiwi dollar against all its major rivals and weighed on exporters.

The jobless rate came in at a seasonally adjusted 4.7 percent in the first quarter of 2021, while analysts had expected it to hold at 4.9 percent.

The benchmark NZX-50 Index fell 63.88 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,848.31. Shares of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare declined 2.8 percent.

U.S. stocks fell broadly overnight after Janet Yellen suggested interest rates may have to rise modestly to prevent the economy from overheating amid the recent spike in government spending.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 1.9 percent and the S&P 500 shed 0.7 percent, while the Dow reversed an early slide to finish marginally higher.

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