Asian Shares Mostly Lower In Cautious Trade; China Reopens On Positive Note

Asian stocks fell broadly on Monday as investors looked ahead to a busy week of central bank announcements and earnings updates from U.S. tech heavyweights Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Meta Platforms.

Chinese shares eked out modest gains as traders returned to their desks after a week-long holiday.

China’s Shanghai Composite index edged up 0.14 percent to 3,269.32 as the country reported a sharp drop in new COVID-related deaths during the Lunar New Year holiday and the State Council vowed to boost consumption this year.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index tumbled 2.73 percent to 22,069.73, dragged down by technology stocks ahead of U.S. tech earnings and Chinese business activity data due this week.

Japanese shares fluctuated before closing slightly higher at over one-month high. The Nikkei average inched up 0.19 percent to 27,433.40 as the earnings season reaches its peak this week. The broader Topix index ended marginally lower at 1,982.40.

Robot maker Fanuc jumped 3.6 percent and silicon wafer maker Shin-Etsu Chemical soared 5.1 percent after raising their annual operating profit outlook.

Seoul stocks fell sharply to snap a five-day winning streak, with tech and auto stocks leading losses.

The Kospi average lost 1.35 percent to settle at 2,450.47 as caution set in ahead of policy meetings from the Fed, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BoE) later this week. Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor both ended down over 2 percent.

Australian markets ended a volatile session slightly lower as gains in technology stocks were offset by weakness in the mining and financial sectors.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.16 percent to 7,481.70 while the broader All Ordinaries index closed 0.12 percent lower at 7,700.40.

Afterpay owner Block rallied 3.8 percent, Appen surged 2.7 percent, Xero added 3.1 percent and WiseTech Global soared 5.2 percent.

IAG lost 3.7 percent and Suncorp declined 2 percent after the insurance firms announced they would be hit by significant losses due to the significant claims related to the floods in New Zealand.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX-50 index finished marginally lower at 12,034.17.

U.S. stocks fluctuated before closing mostly higher on Friday as a slew of economic data boosted optimism about the overall health of the world’s largest economy.

Personal income increased in line with estimates in December, pending home sales rose for the first time in seven months and a measure of consumer sentiment improved in January while a closely watched measure of inflation showed the pace of price increases easing.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rallied 1 percent to log its fourth weekly gain, while the S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent and the Dow inched up marginally.

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