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Asia report: Seoul leads gains on mixed day for region

(Sharecast News) - Markets in the Asia-Pacific region finished in a mixed state on Friday, with South Korea's Kospi emerging as the frontrunner following a Wall Street recovery from earlier-week sell-offs overnight. However, equities in China faced a notable decline.

"Prior to the release of the monthly US labour report later today, most equity markets in the Asia-Pacific region are experiencing gains," said TickMill market analyst Patrick Munnelly.

"This is due to strong performances in the tech sector after the US market closed.

"Both Amazon and Meta Platforms saw significant increases in their stock prices following their earnings reports on Thursday. as well as optimism about a global economic soft landing and expectations of impending interest rate cuts despite central banks advocating for patience."

Most markets in the green; Greater China the exception

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index increased 0.41% to close at 36,158.02 points, while the Topix index rose 0.22% to reach 2,539.68 points.

Leading the gains on Tokyo's benchmark was Konica Minolta, which surged by 9.75%, followed by Fujitsu with a 5.98% increase, and J.Front Retailing, up by 5.85%.

In contrast, China's equity markets experienced a downturn, with the Shanghai Composite declining 1.46% to 2,730.15 points, and the Shenzhen Component seeing a more significant drop of 2.24%, closing at 8,055.78 points.

Among the leading losers in Shanghai were Cultural Investment Holdings, down by 10.23%, and Huada Automotive Technology, with a 10.02% decrease.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index reported a minor dip of 0.21%, concluding the day at 15,533.56 points.

Those losses were led by WuXi AppTec, which experienced a substantial drop of 21.19%, WuXi Biologics down by 20.66%, and Orient Overseas International with a 4.08% decrease.

South Korea's Kospi was a standout performer, surging by 2.87% to reach 2,615.31 points.

Among the top performers in Seoul were companies like Kia, which recorded an impressive 12.42% increase, and SK Square, with an 11.01% gain.

The S&P/ASX 200 index in Australia demonstrated positive momentum, rising by 1.47% to close at 7,699.40 points, led by Pinnacle Investment Management Group, which saw an 8.62% increase, and Boss Energy, with a 7.95% growth.

New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 index posted a modest increase of 0.12%, settling at 11,931.23 points.

Prominent performers in Wellington included SkyCity Entertainment Group, which surged by 6.97%, and Westpac Banking Corporation, with a 2.29% gain.

In currency markets, the dollar was last 0.22% stronger on the yen, trading at JPY 146.75.

Meanwhile, the greenback was 0.43% weaker against the Aussie at AUD 1.5151, and it decreased 0.12% on the Kiwi, changing hands at NZD 1.6256.

On the oil front, Brent crude futures were last up 0.44% on ICE at $79.05 per barrel, while the NYMEX quote for West Texas Intermediate recorded a 0.41% rise to $74.12.

Consumer price growth slows in Korea, Aussie producer prices accelerate

In economic news, South Korea's consumer price index (CPI) showed a year-on-year increase of 2.8% in January, marking the third consecutive month of declining inflation.

The figure represented a slight drop from the 3.2% recorded in the prior month, and was marginally below the 2.9% projected by Reuters polling.

January's core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, displayed a 2.5% rise, indicating a slower pace compared to the 2.8% rate observed in December.

Meanwhile, Australia's producer price index (PPI) for the fourth quarter of 2023 recorded a year-on-year increase of 4.1%.

That marked an acceleration from the 3.8% growth seen in the third quarter, and signalled the end of four consecutive quarters of declining PPI growth.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, Australia's PPI expanded by 0.9%, which was lower than the third quarter's growth rate of 1.8%.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the growth was driven by "moderate rises across most industries," with sustained growth in construction outputs being a key contributing factor.

The bureau also noted that high crude oil and energy prices in recent quarters have had an impact on prices in various industries.

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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