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On Tuesday, a majority of Asian equities advanced, particularly tech stocks that leaped due to growing enthusiasm for artificial intelligence. At the same time, investors awaited a series of impending inflation reports to guide predictions on potential interest rate reductions within the year.
After a shaky entry into 2024, Asian markets began to recuperate from a downturn over five consecutive sessions, fueled by doubts over the prospect of early rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The impending release of U.S. inflation data later in the week is anticipated to shed light on this issue.
Regional inflation statistics brought some encouraging signs. Following a holiday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumped by 1.4%, boosted by data indicating that Tokyo’s inflation had decreased as anticipated in December and was now approaching the Bank of Japan’s annual target of 2%.
Although a severe earthquake in central Japan initially disrupted investor confidence, it also prompted speculation that the Bank of Japan might postpone its plans to wind down its extremely accommodative monetary policies due to anticipated reconstruction activities post-disaster.
Tech shares in Asia got a lift from a resurgence in artificial intelligence interest and potential bargain purchases.
Boosted by gains in significant tech firms, Japan’s Nikkei also benefited from companies involved in artificial intelligence. Semiconductor testing equipment manufacturer Advantest Corp. soared almost 7%, ranking among Nikkei’s top gainers.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index experienced a 1% upswing, driven by robust performance from tech companies. PC manufacturer Lenovo Group saw its shares increase 6.1% after announcing more than 40 new AI-powered devices and products at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Excitement over artificial intelligence was rekindled as NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA), a central player in the AI-driven surge of 2023, saw its shares jump more than 6% to new highs on Monday following a recommendation from New Street Research as one of its top picks for 2024. This enthusiasm had a positive spillover effect on Asian stock markets.
South Korea’s KOSPI experienced a 0.3% increase, with the broader tech sector’s gains compensating for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s (KS:005930) 0.5% stock decline after the tech giant reported a 35% drop in fourth-quarter profits.
In contrast, SK Hynix Inc (KS:000660), a company that specializes in advanced memory chips crucial for AI development, saw its shares climb over 2%, despite Samsung’s report which suggested further short-term challenges for the chip industry.
The uptick in tech stock prices was further fueled by aggressive bargain hunting; the sector had taken a hit in the initial week of 2024 amid mounting skepticism over the potential for early Federal Reserve rate cuts. However, caution persisted in anticipation of key U.S. consumer price index (CPI) figures due this Thursday, with expectations pointing to a modest rise in inflation for December.
A wider expansion occurred across Asian equities. Australia’s ASX 200 lifted by 1.1%, bolstered by news of a larger-than-anticipated surge in retail sales for November. Australian CPI numbers are poised for release on Wednesday.
In China, the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 increased by 0.1% from a five-year nadir, and the Shanghai Composite index edged up 0.2% from a 13-month low. Chinese inflation and trade data are also scheduled for release later in the week.
Chinese stocks were notable underperformers in Asia during 2023, as the anticipated post-COVID economic rebound in the country largely fell short.
Meanwhile, futures indicated a modestly upbeat start for India’s Nifty 50 index, looking to rebound from the significant downturn witnessed during the initial week of 2024. The week’s focus includes quarterly financial reports from major companies such as Infosys Ltd (NS:INFY) and Wipro Ltd (NS:WIPR), as well as the release of the Indian CPI for December.