Japan drops nearly 2%; New Zealand dollar falls


SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Wednesday, with Japanese stocks leading losses regionally.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 1.58% to close at 29,302.66 while the Topix index declined 1.16% to 2,019.12. Markets in Japan were closed on Tuesday for a holiday.

South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.1% on the day to 2,994.29.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.54% as of its final hour of trading. Mainland Chinese stocks finished the trading day mixed, with the Shanghai composite rising 0.1% to 3,592.70 and the Shenzhen component shedding 0.118% to about 14,887.60.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Straits Times index in Singapore gained 0.12%, as of 3:16 p.m. local time.

Singapore’s economy grew 7.1% in the third quarter as compared with a year ago, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It was higher than an earlier official advance estimate for 6.5% year-on-year growth.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.15% lower at 7,399.40.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.07%.

New Zealand dollar slips

In other central bank developments, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand on Wednesday announced its decision to raise the official cash rate to 0.75%, in line with expectations of most economists in a Reuters poll.

“The Committee agreed it remains appropriate to continue reducing monetary stimulus so as to maintain price stability and support maximum sustainable employment,” the New Zealand central bank said in a release. “The Committee noted that further removal of monetary policy stimulus is expected over time given the medium term outlook for inflation and employment.”

Following the RBNZ’s announcement, the New Zealand dollar tumbled nearly to $0.6916, against levels around $0.7 seen earlier in the week.

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The rise in Treasury yields has weighed on technology stocks on Wall Street, with the Nasdaq Composite falling 0.5% overnight stateside to 15,775.14. Higher rates are often seen as a negative for high-growth firms in sectors like tech as their future earnings look less attractive against a backdrop of rising short-term yields.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 194.55 points to 35,813.80 while the S&P 500 climbed about 0.17% to 4,690.70.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.487 following its climb earlier in the week from below 96.4.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.88 per dollar, having weakened from below 114.5 against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar was at $0.722, still off levels above $0.73 seen last week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.33% to $82.58 per barrel. U.S. crude futures climbed 0.36% to $78.78 per barrel.

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