Hong Kong Stocks Jump 2%, Leading Gains as Investors Digest Slew of Economic Data

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Asia-Pacific shares were mostly higher Thursday as investors digested a slew of economic data.



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Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 2.17%, and the Hang Seng Tech Index jumped 3.96%, leading gains in the region.

The Nikkei 225 and Topix both dipped 0.12% to close at 27,362.75 and 1,878.4 respectively following the release of the Bank of Japan's summary of opinions from last week's meeting. The Japanese yen last stood at 129.48 against the U.S. dollar.

The Kospi rose 1.6% to end at 2,468.and the Kosdaq added 0.69% even as South Korea's gross domestic product shrank 0.4% in the fourth quarter, marking the first contraction in more than two years.

Philippines' gross domestic product expanded a strong 7.2% in the fourth quarter. Hong Kong is slated to release trade data. Singapore is posting its manufacturing output data for the month of December later in the day.

Markets in China and Australia are closed for a holiday.

Overnight in the U.S., stocks mostly dipped, as technology stocks languished following Microsoft's lackluster guidance.

Toyota's CEO to step down from post, effective April 1

Toyota Motor Corporation's President and Chief Executive Akio Toyoda will step down from his post on April 1, to be replaced by current Chief Branding Officer Koji Sato, the Japanese automaker said.

Toyoda will become the new chairman of the board, while the current Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada will continue as a member of the board.

"I thought the best way to further Toyoda's transformation would be for me to become chairman in support of a new president, and this has led to today's decision," Toyoda said in a webcast.

Tokyo-listed shares of Toyota ended the session 0.63% lower Thursday ahead of the announcement.

– Ruxandra Iordache, Jihye Lee

Hyundai posts stellar fourth quarter profits

Hyundai Motor posted a net income of 1,710 trillion won ($1.4 billion) for the fourth quarter ending December, marking a 143.8% increase year-on-year.

In spite of the stellar results, the reading was still shy of Refinitiv forecast of 2.5 trillion won net profit.

The figure also marks a 21.1% growth compared to the previous quarter ending September.

The automaker's sport utility vehicle (SUV) sales was a big contributor to the results, with Hyundai expecting "strong sales of high-end models to continue."

The company's shares last traded up 6.04% on Thursday.

—Lee Ying Shan

Singapore factory output contracts 3.1%, extending decline since October

Singapore's annualized manufacturing output for December fell 3.1%, performing better than Reuters' expectations of a 6.9% dive.

The reading marks the third consecutive decline since October, and comes after November's figure of a 3.2% dip.

On a month-on-month basis, Singapore's manufacturing output data rose 3.2%, compared against a 1.2% decline in the previous month.

—Lee Ying Shan

Hang Seng Index heavyweights play catch up after holidays

Heavyweight stocks of Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index played catch up after returning from the Lunar new year holidays, with the index jumping 1.8%.

Technology company stocks Xiaomi and Lenovo soared 9.27% and 4.51% respectively.

Property company shares saw a similar lift. Longfor Group saw a 6% climb, while Logan Group popped 7.35%. Country Garden rose 3.13%.

Shares of Hong Kong listed automotive companies likewise jumped, with BYD adding 5.83% and Geely up 4.32%.

— Lee Ying Shan

Macquarie estimates Hyundai to post a record 3.2 trillion won in operating profit

Hyundai is expected to post a record 3.2 trillion won ($2.597 billion) in operating profit, according to an earnings forecast from Macquarie's Capital Head of Mobility Research, James Hong.

"We are slightly above the market consensus," said Hong, who attributed the projection to the company's Brazilian production arm driving sales volume growth, as well as foreign exchange tailwinds from the weak Korean won relative to the greenback.

According to Refinitiv estimates, Hyundai is expected to post a net income of 2.311 trillion won for the fourth quarter, which would mark an 81% increase from the company's third quarter net income of 1,272 trillion won.

Hyundai's earnings call is scheduled for 1PM local time.

The company's shares last traded up 1.93%.

—Lee Ying Shan

CNBC Pro: Wall Street majors share when global stock markets might bottom and by how much

As stocks continue their rally, several major financial institutions are now predicting a significant downturn in global equity markets.

The S&P 500 index has risen by more than 10% since its lows in October last year. In Europe, the STOXX 600 has increased by more than 15% over the same period.

But, according to some investment banks, those gains are now at risk as they fear the lagged effects of monetary tightening are likely to hit earnings and cause compression in profit margins this year.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read about when the market is likely to bottom and by how much here.

— Ganesh Rao

Philippines economy expands a strong 7.2% in the fourth quarter

The Philippine economy grew a robust 7.2% in the fourth quarter of 2022, beating expectations, according to data from the statistics authority.

A Reuters poll had forecast gross domestic product growth to come in at 6.5% in the last three months of 2022, from a year earlier. 

For the full year, the economy expanded 7.6% in 2022 on the back of strong growth in sectors such as wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which rose 8.7%. Manufacturing came in at 5% and construction 12.7%.

"It so happens that for this year what matters is really domestic consumption, and that is what the Philippines has," said Alicia Garcia-Herrero, chief Asia economist at Natixis, who spoke to CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" on Thursday, before the release of the GDP data. 

"For that reason, I think 2023 will be rather good for the Philippines compared to the rest of the region. Also, the fact.. that the central bank, will have to do just a tiny bit more — maybe all the way to 6%, and then pause. And interest rates are very important for consumption."

She added interest rates will start to come down next year, and that's "positive again" for the Philippines.

— Sumathi Bala

Bank of Japan emphasizes need to keep current monetary policy

The Bank of Japan emphasized the need to maintain its current monetary policy, including leaving the yield curve control unchanged, according to the Summary of Opinions from its last meeting published Thursday.

"The Bank needs to continue with the current yield curve control, considering the outlook that it will take time to achieve the price stability target of 2 percent in a sustainable and stable manner," the release said, reiterating its unchanged stance on its inflation target.

The central bank continued its operations to purchase Japanese government bonds in response to upward pressure on yields. The Nikkei reported earlier this week that the BOJ disclosed holding technically more than 100% of several key 10-year JGBs – or running higher than the issuance amounts.

"There has been upward pressure on long-term interest rates, and the distortions on the yield curve have not dissipated," the BOJ said in its Summary of Opinions, noting additional purchases of JGBs as one of many options of action that it can take to keep its yield curve controlled within its tolerance range.

– Jihye Lee

Singapore factory output expected to fall 6.9%, extending decline since October

Singapore's year-on-year manufacturing output for December is expected to decline 6.9%, according to analysts polled by Reuters, which would register more than twice the drop recorded in November.

The projected forecast would also extend Singapore's manufacturing output decline since October, and November's figure of a 3.2% fall.

On a monthly basis, Singapore's factory output is expected to record a 1.1% drop.

—Lee Ying Shan

South Korea's economy marks first contraction since 2020

South Korea's gross domestic product declined 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the previous quarter, marking the first contraction in two and a half years.

Private consumption dipped 0.4%, exports contracted by 5.8% and manufacturing fell by 4.1%, according to the Bank of Korea.

Government spending sharply increased 3.2% compared to third quarter's 0.1% rise.

On a year-on-year basis, South Korea's final quarter GDP gained 1.4% compared to a year earlier, slightly missing Reuters' expectations of a 1.5% growth.

— Lee Ying Shan

CNBC Pro: Want to cash in on China's reopening? Bank of America and UBS have some less obvious stock picks

Stocks in certain key sectors that are directly related to China's reopening, such as domestic consumption and travel, have done well in recent months.

Investors looking for entry into these stocks may find them unpalatable at current valuations. But there could be another way to play the reopening, with Bank of America and UBS having identified a raft of less obvious beneficiaries outside of China.

Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Zavier Ong

CNBC Pro: Lithium's got a strong year ahead of it — and China's reopening will boost this stock, analyst says

Things are looking up for the electric vehicle industry, thanks to China's reopening — particularly in the second half of the year, one analyst says.

Corinne Blanchard, vice president of lithium and clean tech equity research at Deutsche Bank, names one top stock pick.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.

— Weizhen Tan

Stocks finish mixed

Stocks were mixed Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 9.88 points, or 0.03%, to end at 33,743.84. The Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.18% to close at 11,313.36, and the S&P 500 dipped 0.02% to settle at 4,016.22.

— Samantha Subin

Microsoft shares shed after-hours gains, turn negative

Microsoft shares slid about 1% in after-hours trading, reversing earlier gains.

Shares were initially higher after the company posted quarterly earnings per share that beat the Street's expectations. However, investors' sentiment soured after Microsoft issued disappointing guidance for revenue in the current quarter on its earnings conference call.

The company forecasted $50.5 billion to $51.5 billion in fiscal third quarter revenue, while analysts surveyed by Refinitiv anticipated $52.43 billion.

Read more about Microsoft's results here.

-Darla Mercado, Jordan Novet

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