Alright folks, get ready for a wild ride. Most Asian stocks were barely breaking even or dipping a bit on Wednesday, while all eyes are set on the much-anticipated interest rate hike by the Fed later in the day. Down under though, it’s a different story. Australian stocks were whooping it up, thanks to lower-than-expected inflation numbers.
Now, it looked like the excitement over further stimulus measures in China was fizzling out. Stocks there were being sold off after a fantastic run in the previous session. Basically, investors were cashing in.
All eyes and ears were tuned in to the Fed. Rumor has it, the interest rates will jump by 25 basis points before the day’s out. The suspense is real, though, as there’s no clear picture of future rate hikes. You could almost feel investors pacing back and forth, holding their breath.
There’s a bit of a kerfuffle in China. Their stocks were taking a bit of a nosedive, as investors decided to pocket some profits after Tuesday’s rally. The CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite took a minor hit of about 0.3%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell close to 1%.
Top dogs in China had previously hinted at rolling out more support for the economy, setting off a swift uptick in local shares. Now, investors are sitting tight, waiting for the next round of goodies, especially as recent data suggests the economy hit a bit of a speed bump in the second quarter.
Chipmakers are feeling the heat too. Stocks took a step back on Wednesday after South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix Inc posted some disappointing second-quarter results. Even the buzz around AI couldn’t help offset the industry-wide slump. SK Hynix saw its shares drop 0.9%, while Samsung Electronics Co Ltd also felt the burn, losing 2% and tugging South Korea’s KOSPI down 0.6%.
Even the big fish weren’t spared. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the biggest contract chipmaker around, fell 0.4%, leaving the Taiwan Weighted index in a stalemate. Over in Japan, the Nikkei 225 was treading water, thanks to a hit taken by chip testing equipment maker Advantest Corp. The Bank of Japan meeting this Friday is also something to keep an eye on.
For the most part, Asian markets were hanging in there. With the Fed looming large, sentiments were understandably subdued. India’s Nifty 50 index seemed ready for a break-even opening after recent profit booking.
Back to Australia, the ASX 200 index stole the show, zooming 1% to a five-month high. Apparently, the second quarter was cooler than expected on the inflation front. This could give the Reserve Bank a breather on rate hikes. With inflation easing off, the Aussie economy might just dodge the recession bullet this year. Exciting times indeed!