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Asia Markets Trade Mixed, Bank of Japan Nominee Ueda Speaks; Japan's Inflation Reaches 41-Year High

Kazuhiro Nogi | Afp | Getty Images

This is CNBC's live blog covering Asia-Pacific markets.

Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Friday as the nominee to lead the Bank of Japan Kazuo Ueda spoke at a confirmation hearing.

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The Nikkei 225 ended Friday 1.29% higher at 27,452.48, and the Topix climbed 0.67%. Japan's core inflation in January rose 4.2%, the highest since 1981.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3% to close at 7,307. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.63% to end at 2,423.61, while the Kosdaq finshed down 0.56% at 778.88.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down1.56%, and the Hang Seng Tech Index dropped 3.11%. In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component fell 0.82%, ending Friday at 11,787.45 and the Shanghai Composite was 0.62% lower to end at 3,267.16.

In earnings, OCBC was among the three major Singapore banks that posted a record profit for 2022 alongside DBS and UOB. Singapore's January manufacturing output fell 2.7% on an annualized basis, in contrast to the expectation of a 2.9% rise.

Overnight in the U.S., stocks closed higher amid volatile trading Thursday as investors remained concerned about the path of the Federal Reserve's rate hikes.

— CNBC's Hakyung Kim and Tanaya Macheel contributed to this report.

U.S. may cap level of South Korean chips made in China: Reuters

The U.S. will likely impose a limit on the level of chips made by South Korean companies in China, Reuters reported, citing the U.S. Commerce Department's undersecretary for industry and security Alan Estevez.

"What will likely be is a cap on the levels that they can grow to in China," Estevez told Reuters, when asked what would happen after a waiver from the U.S. government-imposed rules on chipmakers in China expires.

South Korean chipmakers Samsung and SK Hynix have also obtained one-year waivers from the U.S. so they can keep sending equipment to their China factories without getting a license.

Shares of Samsung fell 1.13% in Friday's afternoon and SK Hynix fell 1.83%.

— Jihye Lee

Singapore manufacturing output falls 2.7% in January, below expectations

Singapore's manufacturing output decreased 2.7% in January 2023 on an annualized basis, lower than economists' expectations of a 2.9% rise. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 6.3%.

Data from the country's Economic Development Board showed that the biomedical manufacturing and transport engineering expanded 23.2% and 4.7% respectively.

Compared to December, manufacturing output decreased 1.1%, and if biomedical manufacturing was excluded, output grew 0.4% compared to the month before.

Singapore' benchmark Straits Times Index rose 0.57% after the announcement.

— Lim Hui Jie

CNBC Pro: Investor names the stock to buy for the next 10 years

Veteran investor Mark Hawtin has revealed the one stock he thinks is best to own over the next five-to-10 years.

Hawtin oversees several global long-only and long/short funds that invest in disruptive growth and technology stocks at GAM Investments.

"It is without a doubt our favorite mega-cap name," he told CNBC's Pro Talks Wednesday.

The investment director said this company's dominant position and critical role in the enterprise software ecosystem make its shares ideal to own through a downturn in the global economy.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Ganesh Rao

China EV maker Nio to build new 40 GWh battery plant: Reuters

Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio plans to build its first battery plant to produce big cylindrical cells similar to those used by Tesla, Reuters reported.

Citing two people familiar with the matter, Reuters said this comes as the company seeks to cut its reliance on suppliers like battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology.

The new plant will have an annual capacity to produce 40 gigawatt hours of batteries, which can power about 400,000 units of long-range EVs.

It will be located next to its main manufacturing hub in Hefei city, in eastern China's Anhui province.

Shares of Nio in Hong Kong were trading 7.35% lower on Friday.

– Lim Hui Jie

Bank of Japan governor nominee Ueda says current strategy 'appropriate'

Bank of Japan governor nominee Kazuo Ueda has expressed support for the current monetary policy, Reuters reported, citing his commentary at parliament.

Despite numerous side effects, the current strategy is "appropriate," Ueda reportedly said, commenting on the central bank's ultra-dovish monetary policy.

He added more time is needed to achieve the central bank's inflation target and it aims to achieve price stability in a sustainable and stable manner.

— Jihye Lee

Singapore's tech giant Grab tumbles 8.29% despite narrowed losses

Shares of ride-hailing and food delivery giant Grab fell 8.29% in U.S. trade after the company released its latest earnings report on Thursday.

Grab reported a narrower loss of $1.7 billion in 2022 after cost-cutting measures. During the earnings call, Grab's executives further pledged to cut incentives.

"I think investors are a little bit worried about whether this strategy will lead to lower growth in the long term," said Sachin Mittal, DBS Bank's head of telecom & internet sector research, on CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" Friday.

"If you give lesser incentives to consumers and delivery people, the business may not grow much, especially when we are seeing rising inflation."

He added that the trade off is quite evident, but it is the "right strategy in the current environment, especially when investors really care about profitability."

Mittal said that he was not positive about Grab so far, adding that their main concern is still the low margin of the business.

He explained that it is possible to "deliver 10-15 packages on a single route" in e-commerce delivery. But for mobility and food delivery, the delivery personnel "can only deliver a single passenger or package on a road."

– Sheila Chiang

Alibaba's Hong Kong shares slip over 3% despite better than expected earnings

Shares of Alibaba in Hong Kong fell 3.6% lower, despite reporting better-than-expected earnings for its fiscal third quarter.

For the quarter ending Dec. 31, Alibaba recorded 247.76 billion Chinese yuan in revenue ($35.92 billion), up 2% on an annualized basis and higher than the 245.18 billion yuan expected.

Most notably, net income came in at 46.82 billion yuan, 69% higher than the same period a year ago.

On Thursday, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang during a earnings call noted sales of online physical goods "remained weak" in January to early February of this year due to Covid-19 cases in China, according to FactSet transcript.

Still, Zhang said he expects recovery to pick up, saying "all of our merchants have also expressed their strong desire to get to business."

— Lim Hui Jie, Arjun Kharpal, Evelyn Cheng

CNBC Pro: Asia tech is back, Bernstein says, naming Alibaba and 5 more top picks

Looking to cash in on the China reopening, while being mindful of a potential recession? Bernstein has a raft of tech stocks it says checks the boxes.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

Singapore bank OCBC posts record profit, full year dividend rises 28%

Singapore bank OCBC has posted a record full year net profit of $5.75 billion Singapore dollars ($4.28 billion), up 18% compared to 2021's figure of S$4.86 billion.

This was because of "strong growth in net interest income and lower allowances," the company said in its earnings release.

The bank's net interest income grew 31% to a record S$7.69 billion compared to 2021, "underpinned by a 37 basis point expansion in net interest margin and 6% growth in average assets," said the release.

Revenue for 2022 also increased 10% on an annualized basis to S$11.7 billion.

OCBC declared a dividend of 40 cents for the six months ending December, bringing its total dividend to 68 cents, 28% higher than the year before.

— Lim Hui Jie

Japan's consumer price index rises 4.2% in January

Japan's nationwide consumer price index rose 4.2% compared to a year ago in January, government data showed.

That reading was in line with expectations of economists surveyed by Reuters.

The economy's core CPI excluding fresh food and energy prices rose 3.2%, data showed, as overall CPI rose 4.3% year on year.

— Jihye Lee

Stocks ended up on Thursday

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 111 points, or 0.3%.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose 0.5% and 0.7%, respectively.

The major averages are still on pace to end the week on a downturn, with the S&P 500 on track for its worst weekly performance since Dec. 16.

— Hakyung Kim

CNBC Pro: Nvidia's stock is soaring on the A.I. buzz. Here’s where Wall Street sees it going next

After a bad 2022 — along with most chip companies — U.S. giant Nvidia has seen a major turnaround, clawing back much of the losses it incurred.

Has the stock got further to go even with its big surge this year? Here's what Wall Street analysts say about where they see it going next, and AI's impact on the firm.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

Keep an eye on the 3,900 S&P 500 level, chart analyst Katie Stockton says

Fairlead Strategies' Katie Stockton said she's closely watching the 3,900 level at the S&P 500, noting it's in danger of being broken. "Unfortunately, the next support level is that 3,500 level that was tested back in October."

The S&P 500 traded around 3,990 on Thursday, struggling to snap a four-day losing streak — its longest slide since December.

The broader market index has also given up a chunk of its January gains. It was last up about 4% for the year after popping more than 6% in January.

"That abrupt reversal shows a shift in market sentiment that, I think, is … going to be difficult to weather in the near term," Stockton said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

— Fred Imbert

Wavering in the markets looking to continue, according to BankRate

The back-and-forth rally in the markets is looking to continue in the near future, according to BankRate's chief financial analyst Greg McBride.

"The market is rallied a couple of times under this false premise that the Federal Reserve is going to pivot and start cutting interest rates right. And time and time again, the Fed pushes back on that, and the market eventually gets the message, and we see a pullback. I don't expect it to play out any differently this time," said McBride. "The economy is the economy is remarkably strong. Inflation is still hot. The labor market was tight. And all of that argues for a fed that is going to continue raising interest rates."

McBride added that currently, the markets are only pricing in a soft landing.

He added, "The market has not priced in the risk of recession. The market has not priced in the no landing scenario where the Fed has to continue raising interest rates because of elevated inflation and for the foreseeable future."

— Hakyung Kim

2023 is a more micro-driven market, according to Goldman Sachs

The market has shifted this year, according to Goldman Sachs' trading desk, presenting opportunities for investors.

"Fears of recession and elevated interest rate volatility helped create a particularly macro-driven market for much of 2022," according to a Wednesday note from the firm's trading desk.

"But 2023 is shaping up to be a much more micro-driven market, presenting an opportunity for fundamental stock pickers and alpha generation as we move further and further into the post-pandemic, post-modern cycle." 

The note highlighted the "importance of margins (over revenues) amidst higher interest rates, more expensive input costs (like commodities and labor), and high inflation." 

— Hakyung Kim

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